Thursday, September 10, 2020

9/8/20: Ireland PMIs and Economic Activity Dynamics for August

Ireland's PMIs are signalling a cautious recovery in the growth dynamics across three sectors, with growth still underperforming historical averages.

Irish Services Sector PMI rose to a respectable 52.4 in August from 51.9 in July, with the latest index reading sitting 38.5 points above April 2020 COVID-19 pandemic lows. However, statistically, the index remains below historical average of 55.0 and the median of 56.8. In other words, second month post-contraction phase of the pandemic, Irish services sectors are still struggling to restore growth (not levels) in activity consistent with a robust recovery.

Irish Manufacturing Sector PMI fell to 52.3 in August from July's 57.3 reading. The series are generally more subdued than Services PMI, which means that August reading is statistically indistinguishable from the historical average of 51.5 and is bang-on the median of 52.31. Manufacturing activity swung 16.3 points between COVID19 trough and August reading. Overall, Manufacturing growth seems to have fallen off the post-COVID19 high.

Irish official Composite (two sectors) PMI is currently at 54.0 which is statistically at the historically median rate of growth. The series are too short to talk about averages and historical comparatives in any serious terms. 

Irish Construction Sector PMI (not included in the official Composite PMI) came in at 52.3 in August, up from 51.9 in July and 48.7 points above the COVID19 trough in April. Current reading is statistically above the historical average, but identical to the historical median. This suggests that much of the rebound can be down to seasonal and cyclical volatility, as opposed to thee genuine recovery. 

Here is a summary chart of the three sectors dynamics:

I compute my own GVA-shares-weighted 3-sectors Activity Index, using all three sectoral PMIs reported by IHS Markit. The 3-Sectors Activity Index currently sits at 52.4, down from 54.1 in July and up 30.1 points on COVID19 trough. The current growth in economic activity in Ireland is statistically below historical average, and historical median. And it has moderated from July high, suggesting that the economy is still struggling to recover levels of activity lost to the COVID19 pandemic.

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