MANUFACTURING activity grew for the eighth month in a row in January - although the pace was a little slower than December.
Data from Investec's Purchasing Manager's Index fell 52.8 in January from 53.5 in December - all figures above 50 represent expansion.
"Although production growth slowed in January, new orders remained relatively robust, with improved demand reported from both domestic and export customers. Once again, the UK market was highlighted as a source of particular strength," said Investec Ireland's chief economist Philip O'Sullivan.
"Today's report represents a solid, if unspectacular, start to 2014 for the manufacturing sector. Broadly speaking, with activity having grown in every month since June 2013, the underlying trend remains intact," he said.
Last month employment grew across all three groups of manufacturing - investment, intermediate and consumer goods.
Unemployment has fallen to 12.4pc, just above the euro zone average, from a 2012 high of over 15pc.