First what matters most on GDP side - second consecutive month of declining growth on New Exports Orders side - December reading was at (still expansionary) 54.0, down from 54.7 in November and 54.9 in October. 12-months average was 55.5, so we have a signal of relative growth slowdown into Q4 (average 54.5), compared with Q2 and Q1 (averages of 57.4 both), but of Q3 (52.7).
Total New Orders are robustly up to 53.2 reading for December (12-months average is 51.7), but December increase was not enough to push poor performance in Q4 (average for the quarter is 51.6).
Overall PMIs for Manufacturing are signaling relatively positive momentum, rising to 52.2 in December, from 51.2 in November, marking third consecutive monthly rise. December reading is above 12-months average of 51.2 as is Q4 average reading (51.4).
Here's a close-up:
But what about capacity?
So far, capacity remains below growth line (50 reading signifies expansion, of course), suggesting - strongly - that Irish companies are not running out of existent capacity yet. Which means productivity will continue grow, and that's the good news. The bad news is that with capacity remaining underutilized, there's no real hope for strong growth in either wages or employment.
Although index of Employment rose above 50 line - reaching 50.5 in December for the first time since May 2010 (when it stood at 51.5 - and then again, nothing really happened on employment side, as sustained jobs creation will require consistent above 51.3-52 readings in the index). Clearly, Employment prospects have improved - December reading was 2.6 points above 12-mo average reading of 47.9, and Q4 average - at 49.9 - is almost touching jobs-neutral expansion.
Most worrisome to me is the New Exports Orders data - as discussed above, although the series is generally more volatile than Total Orders series, it is clear to me that going forward, domestic demand of the Total Orders is not going to hold.
Another issue - more of a question, than concern is: backlogs of orders rising appears to be driving up forward employment expectations. There seem to be some 3mo plus lag in the two series, so delivery time remaining relatively benign, but under pressure, it is difficult to make a call on employment index reading. That said, employment index for manufacturing does show stronger correlation, historically with overall sector PMIs than in the case of services (but more on this in the third post on PMIs later today.
Again, the credit for data goes to NCB Stockbrokers, but analysis (and any errors it may contain) is solely my own.