Consumer confidence was little changed in May, according to the latest sentiment index compiled by Bank of Ireland. The buying climate remained positive with about four in ten consumers thinking now was good time to buy big ticket items like household goods. However, there was a drop in business sentiment in the month, which is particularly pronounced when viewed over the course of the full year.
Loretta O'Sullivan, group chief economist with Bank of Ireland, said the index should be viewed against the backdrop of international events, which are contributing to regional variations in sentiment. "The consumer reaction was fairly steady over the month. There was an uptick in terms of the current economic situation, led by households in Munster. On the other side, consumers were less sure about their own financial situations, led by households in Connacht/Ulster. Brexit and sterling volatility played a role here. Also, the CSO data pointed to employment growth slowing. It's an area where households are less certain about job security," she explained.
Loretta O'Sullivan said there had been a drop in business sentiment in the month, primarily due to the services sector, which covers areas like IT, hotels and communications, but it merely reversed the increase recorded in the the previous month. It was a good month for industry, retail and construction on the other hand. "Construction put in a strong performance in the month, leading the way in terms of jobs and hiring intentions."
The construction industry also reported higher input costs and expected further pressure on labour costs, which should result in increased costs for house building overall. That feeds into the housing pulse where the majority, about four in five survey participants, expect house prices to rise in the next 12 months. "Distilling it down, about one in two people in Dublin expect house prices to increase by more than 5%. That's one in three elsewhere," she concluded.
MORNING BRIEFS - The pressure on hotel rooms in Dublin should ease in the coming years, according to an analysis by Savills Hotel and Leisure Division. It calculates that more than 3000 new rooms are scheduled to come on stream in the next three years. There are currently around 19,000 hotel rooms in Dublin so that would amount to an increase in supply of around 15%. The majority of the supply will come on stream in the central areas of Dublin 1,2 and 8 as well as in the vicinity of Dublin airport.
*** The board of fuel and forecourt retailer Applegreen is proposing a maiden dividend of 1.25 cent per share this June. Ahead of its AGM today, an interim management statement reports a good start to the year particularly in non-fuel sales. It added 16 sites to its estate since the start of the year, the majority in ireland but also in the UK and it added 2 new sites in new England in the US.
*** Sterling could come under further pressure this week as the polls narrow in the lead into the UK general election. The pound dropped further on Friday putting in its worst weekly performance so far this year. The currency value has dropped from 83 pence to the euro just after Teresa May called the election, as far as 87.5 pence on Friday.