Business group Ibec is forecasting strong economic growth for the remainder of this year and next. It is forecasting GDP growth of 4.5% next year following a near 8% expansion this year.

However, there is a caveat in its outlook and that is the outcome of Brexit negotiations. Growth for the coming years is highly dependent on the shape of a final deal.

Gerard Brady, Head of Tax and Fiscal Policy with Ibec, said growth in the economy is now in a similar pattern to that seen between 2000 and 2004 before credit growth took off resulting in the bubble of the latter boom years.

"We're looking at GDP growing by about 4.5%, wages growth of 3% and 3% growth in employment. Things are very strong in the domestic economy, but forecasts for the coming years are dependent on Brexit and the shape of the deal."

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The economy is approaching 5% unemployment - a level that's classically referred to as 'full employment,' creating a skills crunch for some industries.

"Companies are firstly going to part-timers to go full-time, but they're increasingly going abroad and further than they previously would have. 

"There are real competitive pressures developing in the economy when you're looking for workers and for other costs. It's driven by a tight labour market, rising oil prices, rising global interest rates. For our indigenous sectors, we're getting into a really tricky space where prices are going up and they're getting hit by Brexit," he said.

Exporters have already felt the currency-related ill-effects of Brexit. Many have diversified into other markets, but there are still sectors that are highly dependent on the UK.

"The food sector overall is still very dependent. Dairy has done very well in diversifying," Mr Brady said.

"Other low margin sectors are taking the hit. They're lowering their margins. They're having to compete in the UK market which is harder to sell into. We're starting to see the effects of that coming through. SMEs are saying that they're putting off investment until they see the shape of a deal and they get a sense of whether they can expand with those cost pressures."

Gerard Brady says it is as difficult for forecasters to come up with scenarios and outcomes as it is for companies to plan for them.

"It's all highly dependent on the political outcome and how companies react to the deal. What's guaranteed is that any outcome that doesn't end up in a solid deal that keeps the UK pretty closely aligned to Europe and keeps trade open will be bad for the Irish economy in net terms, particularly for rural and border regions."

Brexit is not the only prospective international cloud on the horizon, although it is the most acute for the Irish economy.

The prospects for global growth beyond 2020 are described as "choppy" with stock and bond markets, oil prices and interest rates - having all gone our way in recent years - starting to work against us.

MORNING BRIEFS - Oil prices have rebounded as Saudi Arabia signalled that it is willing to cut output by half a million barrels a day in December because of lower demand. Brent crude fell into a bear market on Friday - a fall of more than 20% from its October peak. This morning, Brent crude - the international benchmark - is trading at over $71 a barrel.

*** Building materials group Kingspan has indicated that trading profit for the full year is expected to come in at around €440m - representing growth of around 15% on last year. In a trading update just issued, the group reported revenue for the first three quarters of €3.18 billion - up nearly a fifth year on year.

*** Hibernia REIT has acquired 92.5 acres of land from the IRFU and an additional six acres from another seller in the Newlands Cross area of Dublin. It is spending around €28.7m on the total acquisition. The land is currently zoned for agricultural use but an additional market value based payment is due if the land is rezoned in the next decade.

*** Telecoms company Eir is to invest €150 million in upgrading its mobile network. The investment will result in 4G voice and data coverage extended to more than 99% of the land mass of the country. Eir claims the overhaul will see its entire mobile network transformed over two years.

*** Sterling has given up some of the gains made towards the end of last week. It is down over half a percent against the dollar amid reports of growing opposition in the British cabinet to Theresa May's final Brexit deal.
But the euro is also down amid the uncertainty. This morning, the euro is trading at 87.7 pence sterling and $1.13.