Irish services sector growth slowed to 7-month low in November – PMI

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COVID-19 restrictions continue to ease in Ireland

DUBLIN – Growth in Ireland’s service sector fell to a seven-month low in November as a surge in COVID-19 infections cooled the enthusiasm of consumers, a survey found on Friday.

The AIB IHS Markit Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) dropped to 59.3 in November from 63.4 the month before, remaining well ahead of the 50 mark that separates growth from contraction. It has fallen below 50 nine times since the start of the pandemic.

Ireland has been reporting COVID-19 case numbers near record highs since early November, even though 91% of eligible people over the age of 12 are fully vaccinated.

The death rate has been far lower than earlier waves, however, and case numbers have stabilised in recent days. The government has reported its first case of the Omicron variant, but has said it is too soon to judge its likely impact on the economy.

Reports of rising COVID-19 case numbers weighed on business levels and expectations, with the slowdown evident in all of the survey’s sub-indices, the survey’s authors said.

The 12-month outlook was the weakest since March and growth in employment slowed, the survey showed. Inflationary pressures remained strong with input and output prices near record highs.

(Reporting by Conor Humphries; Editing by Toby Chopra)