A new business sentiment survey shows that Irish businesses are beginning to feel more confident about the outlook for the Irish economy as a whole.
The latest KBC Bank Ireland/Chartered Accountants Ireland Business Sentiment survey shows the first increase in employment in almost five years.
Businesses saw some signs of stabilisation in domestic spending and improvement in business volumes.
The summer survey results suggest that the Irish economy is experiencing a gradual increase in activity as constraints on manufacturing are offset by strength in services and somewhat healthier domestic conditions, its authors said.
KBC's chief economist Austin Hughes said, however, that a very uncertain economic outlook means companies seem likely to remain cautious in their hiring.
''That said, signs of even a tentative pick-up in employment hint at a potentially major change in Irish economic conditions,'' he added.
Austin Slattery, the president of the Chartered Accountants Ireland, said that although the latest survey shows a clear improvement in business conditions, there is little expectation that demand is set to take off in a manner that would lead to notably stronger activity in the coming year.
The survey reflects the view of chartered accountants working in senior positions in Ireland's leading companies. It was conducted in the middle of last month and the results are based on 329 completed responses.