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7/4/21: Ireland PMIs for March: Growth and Inflation Pressures

Summary:
Ireland PMIs for 1Q 2021 are out this week, so let's take a closer look at monthly activity data. March services PMI came in at a surprising 54.6 - up on 41.2 in February and 36.2 in January. Given the country is in a phase 5 lockdown, and there has been little change on that in recent months, the new reading is a bizarre one. Per Markit: "Three out of four monitored sub-sectors registered higher business activity in March. The strongest rate of expansion was in Financial Services, followed by Business Services and Technology, Media & Telecoms respectively. Activity in Transport, Tourism & Leisure declined for the eighth month running, but at the slowest rate since last August." A lot of hope-for vaccines and 'getting back to normal' as well as exports rise behind these figures. Services

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Ireland PMIs for 1Q 2021 are out this week, so let's take a closer look at monthly activity data. 

  • March services PMI came in at a surprising 54.6 - up on 41.2 in February and 36.2 in January. Given the country is in a phase 5 lockdown, and there has been little change on that in recent months, the new reading is a bizarre one. Per Markit: "Three out of four monitored sub-sectors registered higher business activity in March. The strongest rate of expansion was in Financial Services, followed by Business Services and Technology, Media & Telecoms respectively. Activity in Transport, Tourism & Leisure declined for the eighth month running, but at the slowest rate since last August." A lot of hope-for vaccines and 'getting back to normal' as well as exports rise behind these figures. Services PMI is now at its highest reading since February 2020.
  • March Manufacturing PMI also performed well, rising to 57.1 from 52.0 in February. Manufacturing index has been more volatile in the pandemic than Services, so this rise is less of a surprise, given the global economic recovery and demand for Irish exports.
  • We do not have full March data for construction sector PMI, which is reported mid-month, so all we do have is mid-March reading of 27.0. 
Official Composite PMI published by Markit was pretty upbeat in march 2021, rising to 54.5 - signaling strong growth, having previously posted 47.2 in February and 40.2 in January 2021. My own, Three Sectors Activity index - a weighted average of three sectors PMIs based on their share of gross value added - rose even more sharply: from 41.8 in January and 45.0 in February to 55.0 in March. If Construction sector PMI were to come in on-trend mid-April, the Three Sectors Index will be closer to 55.1-55.2 range.

7/4/21: Ireland PMIs for March: Growth and Inflation Pressures

As an aside, it is worth noting that Irish economic activity is showing similar trend to global activity when it comes to inflationary pressures (see: https://trueeconomics.blogspot.com/2021/04/5421-heating-up-inflationary-risks.html). Per Markit: "March data indicated soaring cost pressures. The Composite Input Prices Index posted a record one-month gain and signalled the fastest rate of inflation since July 2008. Cost pressures were much stronger at manufacturers than service providers." In other words, even small open economies with massive distortions coming from the multinationals' financial and tax engineering sides are now showing signs of heating up inflation. 

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