Friday, May 3, 2013

3/5/2013: Irish Services PMI April 2013: Some good, some make-believe news

For a change from the declining fortunes of Irish manufacturing (aka, production of at least some real tangible stuff by humans, albeit richly peppered with tax arbitrage), the accounting trick called Irish Services (aka, billing of services sold in Mongolia to Dublin by companies minimising tax exposures in the US) is booming.

Good news for GDP. Good or bad news (depending on capex cycle and financial engineering - as exhibited by Apple 'bond' offer this week, etc) for GNP. Even better news for the Government solemnly incapable of supporting growth at home, and thus solely reliant on Mongolian demand for 'Irish' services and Obama administration lag in realising that another corporate tax amnesty is long overdue (note to the White House: check out Ireland's IFSC deposits).

Latest NCB Services PMI for Ireland published today show continued expansion in Services sector:

  • Headline Services PMI rose from 52.3 in March to 55.2 in April - statistically significantly above 50.0 for the first time since January 2013. This marks ninth consecutive monthly reading above 50.0, and sixth time the index is above 50 with statistically significant margin.
  • Good news: this time around there was significant growth signaled in Transport, Travel, Tourism & Leisure sector (potentially due to twin effects of The Gathering and the EU Presidency - which should really count as subsidy activities this year). However, another significant driver in upside growth were Financial Services (aka IFSC). Business Services and Technology, Media & Telecoms services both recorded moderation in the rate of growth, as signaled by PMI.
  • On dynamics side, 12mo MA through April 2013 for Business Activity headline index now stands at 53.3, with 3mo average at 53.7. Both are below 3mo average through January 2013 which stood at 56.2, so there is still some slowdown in the rate of growth. Latest 3mo average is ahead of same period 3mo averages for 2010-2012.

Per last chart above, 
  • New Business sub-index remained practically unchanged at 54.2 in April, compared to March (54.1) with both months posting reading statistically above 50.0 - which is good news.
  • On dynamics side, 12mo MA was at 53.7 in April 2013 - a healthy reading, with 3mo MA through April 2013 almost bang on at 12mo average level of activity at 53.8. Previous 3mo average through January 2013 was at blistering 56.5, so there is some marked slowdown in the rate of growth. Nonetheless, last 3 months marked the fastest growth for the same three months period for any year since 2010.
  • April 2013 was the ninth consecutive month of New Business sub-index readings above 50.0, with seven of these months posting readings statistically significantly above 50.0.
I will blog separately on employment and profitability in both services and manufacturing so stay tuned for details on these.

Business confidence and New Export Business sub-indices both showed some slowdown in growth, but still remain in rude health. On foot of this, employment growth rate improved:

Overall, sarcasm aside, the Services sectors continued to support economic growth, even though much of this growth is coming from the make-believe tax arbitrage stuff. Still, better have make-believe dosh than none at all. And a welcomed reprieve from the past years' trials for the Travel & Toursim sector too.

One note of caution, though: Irish Services PMI have little to do with Irish Services actual activity levels... see here:

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