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Economic growth in Northern Ireland set for 2010

Northern Ireland's economy is set to grow again in 2010, according to the head of the University of Ulster's School of Economics.

Mike Smith said he predicted that the Northern Ireland economy would remain fairly flat during 2009 before moderate growth returned next year.

Mr Smith was writing in the latest First Trust Bank Economic Outlook and Business Review.

He said there were now signs that the global downturn may be slackening.

"On the basis of the evidence thus far in 2009, it is not unreasonable to expect a return to positive economic growth here in 2010," he said.

He said that while some commentators have been vilified when they suggested "green-shoots" of recovery are appearing he believes that there are now signs that the global downturn may be slackening.

"In the US lending between banks has returned to something approaching normal," he said.

"New housing starts in the US in the first quarter of 2009 have risen sharply by over 20%, albeit from very low levels and retail sales for April have recorded their biggest rise since August 2008.

"Economic activity in China is also starting to pick up. These all point tentatively to some sort of turning point."

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