The country's services sector expanded for the 30th consecutive month in January, according to the Purchasing Managers Index from Investec Bank. Exports were a key driver for the sector. The January reading came in at 62.5, with anything above 50 being synonymous with expansion. 

Philip O'Sullivan, chief economist with Investec Bank Ireland, said the strong growth in the services sector came in tandem with the good performance in the manufacturing sector with both pointing to a bright start for 2015. "For the services PMIs, we look at four main areas - business and financial services, technology and travel and leisure," he explained. "The one area we don't look at is retailers and wholesalers, but as we saw from yesterday's exchequer figures, VAT and excise receipts are higher which points to a broad recovery taking hold across the whole services sector here."

Mr O'Sullivan said the weakening euro was boosting exports which was having an overall positive impact on both PMI measures.
"The UK was identified by firms as a particular source of new demand for manufacturing services while the US was key for the services sector. About 63% of goods exports go outside of the euro zone so a weaker euro makes our exports more competitive."

The manufacturing PMIs, published on Monday, pointed to the slowest rate of expansion in eight months, but Philip O'Sullivan said it was still consistent with good expansion. "We have one of the highest manufacturing PMI readings in Europe, if not the highest. It's been growing for 20 months. There has been a general softening in global economies, but the outlook for our major trading partners remains quite solid. That should insulate us," he concluded.

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MORNING BRIEFS - Ryanair has reported a 30% increase in passenger numbers for January compared to the same month last year. It carried over 5.98 million people last month - up 1.3 million on January 2014. Its load factor - the number of seats it fills on each flight - also increased to 83% from 71%.

*** There has been a broad welcome for the announcement by Tánaiste Joan Burton that she intends to establish a group to look at developing a universal retirement savings scheme which would effectively be a mandatory pension. At the moment, employers are obliged to provide access to a pension on behalf of an employee but there is no legal obligation to set up or contribute to such a scheme. Only around half of workers currently contribute to a pension scheme other than the State pension and the figure is even lower once public sector workers are excluded.

*** Disney is crediting the movie "Frozen" once again for giving it what it called an incredibly strong financial quarter. Revenues for the three months to the end of December were nearly 10% higher at just under $13.5 billion with net income coming in 19% higher at $2.2 billion. Both were better than forecast - the results were largely driven by performance in its consumer performance division, where Frozen toys are still proving a big hit. The movie is also credited with boosting attendance at Disney theme parks where sales were up 9%.

*** Asian shares reached a three month high overnight amid optimism arising from the rally in the price of oil in recent days. The price of a barrel of benchmark Brent crude lost 15 cents overnight to $57.76 after gaining 6% yesterday alone.