Business sentiment rose for the third consecutive month in December, while consumer sentiment remained steady, the latest Bank of Ireland Economic Pulse shows.
The Bank of Ireland Economic Pulse, which combines the results of the Consumer and Business Pulses, showed a reading of 83 in December.
This was up 2.3 on November’s reading but 5.4 lower than a year ago.
The latest Economic Pulse shows that the majority of firms do not expect to change their selling prices in the months ahead, even though two in five reported a rise in non-labour input costs.
On the consumer front, three in four households said they are likely to put money aside over the coming year and there was greater confidence across all regions for future house price gains.
Dr Loretta O’Sullivan, Group Chief Economist for Bank of Ireland, said that while sentiment rose in December, the Economic Pulse ended the year below where it started it.
“2019 has been a year of intense Brexit drama and political events across the Irish Sea were to the fore again this month, with the UK in the midst of a general election campaign as the December survey was being carried out,” Dr O’Sullivan said.
“Business sentiment rose for the third month in a row, while consumer sentiment moved sideways, as households remain cautious,” she added.
Bank of Ireland said its Business Pulse stood at 84.6 in December, up 2.8 on last month but down 3.5 on a year ago.
It said that while the headline index rose for a third month in a row, the picture was mixed across the sectors with the services and construction sectors posted firmer readings and the industry sector eased back along with the retail sector.
Bank of Ireland said that Brexit developments will continue to be important for business investment, which has been impacted by uncertainty.
Meanwhile, the consumer element of the survey was more or less flat on the month but down 12.9 on a year ago.
Bank of Ireland said that households’ assessment of the general economic situation and their personal finances was little changed in December as they waited to see where the Brexit process goes next.
The buying and savings climate also held steady, with three in ten considering it a good time to purchase big ticket items such as furniture and electrical goods.
74% of consumers also indicated that they are likely to put some money aside over the coming year.
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