Irish business conditions improve further through autumn – survey

Six-fold increase in number of direct selling parties in Ireland

Irish business activity levels have improved further through the summer months to push the KBC Bank Ireland/Chartered Accountants Ireland Business Sentiment Index to its strongest levels since the survey began in late 2006.

The improvement was broadly based, with all sectors reporting an improvement in business conditions and all the components of the index stronger than in the second quarter.

The survey rose to 124.8 in the third quarter of 2014 from 121.8 in the previous three-month period.

This increase puts the index at its highest level since the survey was first compiled in the final quarter of 2006.

The improvement is consistent with a range of evidence suggesting the Irish economy is on a positive trajectory at present.

The survey also analysed the reactions of business leaders with regard to the impact of Budget 2015 on their business.

“The autumn survey results are very encouraging in that they show a broadly based pick-up in activity as well as greater business confidence in relation to the outlook for the broader Irish economy. As a result, the business sentiment index climbed to its highest level in the eight year history of the survey,” said Pat Costello, chief executive, Chartered Accountants Ireland.

Chief economist at KBC Bank Ireland Austin Hughes added: “The strongest element in the autumn survey was companies’ assessment of their own business volumes in the past three months. 59pc of firms indicated their business levels had increased in the past three months with only 9pc reporting weaker conditions.

“The recovery seems to be broadening across sectors and firms and a further improvement is expected in the final three months of the year.”

Costello also noted: “Companies’ assessment of Budget 2015 was broadly favourable, with 13pc of firms intending to increase their hiring next year as a result. Views as to what was the key element of the Budget varied with the reduction in income taxes, the support offered by the Budget to domestic demand and signalling in relation to corporation taxes all cited by roughly equal numbers. While significant numbers of respondents were unsure about what is a complex issue, roughly half of those surveyed thought measures announced in Budget 2015 would enhance the outlook for foreign direct investment in Ireland.”