1. ITV Report

NI private sector declines for the third month in a row

Ulster Bank's chief economist blames "Brexit uncertainty"

Northern Ireland’s private sector output has dropped for the third month in a row, according to a new research published by Ulster Bank.

Meanwhile, the rate of export continued to fall to its lowest rate in six and a half years across the province.

Blaming Brexit uncertainty, Richard Ramsey, the Chief Economist Northern Ireland for Ulster Bank said,

"What the latest PMI suggests is that the global slowdown which had been impacting other economies is now clearly evident within Northern Ireland. Brexit stockpiling by manufacturing companies had been inflating the performance of local firms in recent months”

Despite this, companies expressed optimism for the first time this year, amid hopes of securing new contracts which would support growth.

"Northern Ireland firms expect output to have risen in a year's time. So whilst firms expect challenges in the short-term - citing Brexit as one of the key factors - their expectations for the longer-term are marginally better."