Figures show sharp fall in industrial output
INDUSTRIAL output and manufacturing saw sharp falls in the three months to January compared to the previous three months amid signs that production is waning in the so-called traditional sector.
The seasonally adjusted volume of total industrial output plunged 7.4pc in the three months to January compared to the preceding three months, the Central Statistics Office said yesterday.
Monthly figures can be erratic as chemical exports fluctuate, which is why most economists look at three-month averages rather than monthly figures.
Revised figures for 2011 showed that manufacturing output was slightly higher in 2011 than 2010 while total industrial production was also broadly unchanged over the same period as the global economy slowed.
"The figures for 2011 were, in our opinion, not too bad all things considered," said Alan McQuaid of Bloxham Stockbrokers. "The worry is that with production weakening in the latter part of 2011, there will be a negative carryover into 2012, which doesn't augur well for the prospects of Irish exports in the near-term."
The hi-tech "modern" sector rose in January following annual falls in December and November. The "traditional" sector posted a year-on-year steep 8.2pc fall in January; the largest drop in two years and the fifth annual decline in a row. The fall is "somewhat worrying", Mr McQuaid said.
"While the omens don't look particularly good on the manufacturing front at this point in time, Ireland's focus on relatively recession-hardy exports such as pharmaceuticals and its improving competitiveness should help it weather the storm better than most," Mr McQuaid added.
"With domestic demand so weak, it is in our view vital for the economy that the manufacturing sector remains healthy and competitive."