Irish manufacturing sector expands steadily in March

Irish manufacturing firms registered a further strong improvement in operating conditions during March, according to the latest Investec Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI), with the pace of job creation at levels not seen since 1998.

The manufacturing sector expanded in March after posting its fastest growth in 15 years in February. The index stood at 56.8 last month, down from 57.5 a month earlier but comfortably above the 50 mark that indicates growth.

Irish manufacturers increased their employment at a sharp pace during February, and the rate of job creation was the joint-fastest in the survey’s history, equal with the first month of data collection in May 1998. According to respondents, extra staff had been taken on in response to rising production requirements Investec Ireland chief economist Philip O’Sullivan said Irish manufacturing employment has been on the increase for almost two years now in response to improving client demand.

He also noted that the overall Input Prices index increased for the first time in three months in March, with the overwhelming reason given by panellists for this being euro weakness against both the pound sterling and the US dollar.

“If there is one area of (slight) concern at this time it is that any uncertainty ahead of next month’s UK election, particularly if it impacts the currency markets, would be unhelpful, given that our closest neighbour has repeatedly been identified as a key source of demand by firms in the sector,” he added.

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