Catching up with some data updates, the latest monthly data for Services sectors activity in Ireland was out recently (see link to CSO release here). The data overall points to weaknesses in Services in December 2012, as the summary table shows:
However, let's take a look at subtrends and subsectors:
- Wholesale Trade sub-index fell 4.01% m/m in December 2012 to 112.4 and was down 7.11% y/y. 3mo average through December 2012 is at 115.37 - well ahead of December 2012 monthly reading of 112.4, but down on 3mo average through September 2012 which stood at 116.23. 3mo average through December 2011 was 120.2 - significantly ahead of the average activity recorded in 3mo through December 2012. December 2012 reading was statistically within the historic average.
- Wholesale and Retail Trade, Repair of Vehicles etc sub-sector activity fell 2.65% m/m and was down 4.23% y/y in December 2012. 3mo average through December 2012 (108.57) was ahead of December monthly reading (106.4) and virtually unchanged on 3mo average reading through September 2012 (108.27). However the index reading and its 3mo average were both behind 3mo average through December 2011 (110.57). Similar deterioration in performance marked H2 2012 readings relative to H1 2012 and H2 2011.
- Transportation and Storage sub-sector activity remained relatively flat in December (110.1) compared to November (110.0) rising just 0.09% m/m, although the series are up 6.17% y/y. 3mo average through December 2012 (110.07) is below 3mo average through September 2012 (112.77), but well ahead of 3mo average through December 2011 (101.93). H2 2012 average stands ahead of H1 2012 average.
Per chart above,
- Accommodation and Food Services sub-sector activity remained largely unchanged in December 2012 (105.5) compared to November 2012 (105.6) with 0.095% decline m/m contrasting 1.74% rise y/y. 3mo average through December 2012 (104.97) was only marginally ahead of 3mo average through September 2012 (104.83) and is ahead of 102.27 reading for 3mo average through December 2011. H1 2012 average was at 101.83 and this rose to 104.9 for H2 2012 average. December 2012 marks the fifth highest index reading since November 2009.
- Within the above sub-sector, Accommodation activity fell 0.18% m/m and rose 9.34% y/y - the largest rise in annual terms of all sub-sectors. Accommodation activity performance was particularly strong in H2 2012 (3mo average through December 2012 was 109.47 and 3mo average through September 2012 was 109.83) when activity index averaged at 109.65, compared to H1 2012 when it averaged 103.95.
- Administrative services fell 2.64% m/m but are still up 3.75% y/y, with 3mo average through December 2012 (102.17) virtually identical to 3mo average through September 2012 (102.20) and both ahead of 3mo average through December 2011 (92.0). H1 activity came in at slower pace than H2.
In heavily exporting sub-sectors of Services:
- ICT services activity rose 4.23% m/m in December 2012 (to 118.3) and was up 9.13% y/y. 3mo average through December 2012 stood at 114.83, ahead of 3mo average through September (110.17) and ahead of 3mo average through December 2011 (107.43). H2 2012 average activity stood at 112.5, up on 110.33 average for H1. The sub-index hit an all-time high in December 2012.
- In contrast with ICT Services, Professional, Scientific & Technical Activities have recorded an unpleasant contraction of 3.82% m/m in December 2012 to 88.2. The index is now 11.8% behind its average activity in 2010 and it has fallen a massive 16.40% y/y. 3mo average through December 2012 stood at 90.23, slightly up on abysmal 3mo average through September 2012 (86.8) but well below the 3 mo average through December 2011 (99.0). H2 average activity (88.52) was well below H1 2012 average activity (92.4) and well below H2 2011 activity (99.45).
Chart above provides outline for the overall Services Activity Index:
- The index has declined marginally (-0.66%) m/m to 106.0 in December 2012 and is now down 1.12% y/y. 3mo average through December 2012 was slightly healthier at 106.43 than the 3mo average reading through September 2012 (104.87), with 3mo average through December 2011 recording 105.0. However, overall H2 2012 average was practically unchanged at 105.65 against H1 2012 average of 105.43.
- The index is now reading below its momentum trend and is only marginally above (statistically) its historical average. As the chart above clearly shows, Irish Services Sector has been bouncing along a flat for some 13 months now, following a rise in twelve months before December 2011.
- Overall, thus, the data is not very encouraging. The sector seems to be searching for a catalyst to either the upside or the downside. Transport & Storage, ICT Services and Accommodation provide some hope (on the basis of y/y comparatives for 3mo average through December 2012, as well as December own y/y changes) for the future, whilst Wholesale services, as well as Professional, Scientific and Technical services creating a powerful downward drag.