Business Irish

Sunday 28 May 2017

Manufacturing output up 8.3pc as indigenous firms find 'solid footing'

Donal O'Donovan

Donal O'Donovan

MANUFACTURING output was up 8.3pc in October compared with the same month last year, according to the latest data from the Central Statistics Office (CSO). Exports, particularly from pharmaceutical firms, led the trend but native industries also showed limited growth.

The picture is not all rosy, however, as the most recent data shows the rate of growth tailed off since the summer, with output down 7.3pc over the past three months compared with the three months before.

Analysts said the negative trend since July was worth monitoring, but argued that output -- especially from the chemicals sector -- can be erratic on a month-to-month basis.

Alan McQuaid of Bloxham Stockbrokers said that, with good figures for the year as a whole, there was a good chance of a return to positive Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in figures to be published next week.

Commenting on the figures Patrick Foley of the CSO said: "Throughout 2010 there has been evidence of strong growth, which has carried forward into the final quarter."

He said April was the only month where output was lower than at the same time last year.

Manufacturing growth continues to be driven by the export sector. The "modern sector" including pharmaceuticals and hi-tech industries, has recorded year-on-year growth of 9.4pc compared with 5.2pc for "traditional sectors" like food and drinks manufacturing.

Chemicals and pharmaceuticals, in particular, account for around half of all manufacturing. Computer software is also on the up but hardware accounts for an increasingly small proportion of turnover.

Alan McQuaid of Bloxham Stockbrokers said: "It does now look like the 'indigenous' sector has become more competitive and found a solid footing, which augurs well. Further real pressure on the euro should boost exports further."

The data show job numbers flat, however, and even record a decline in output since the middle of this year. Even so, the figures are the latest evidence that export-led manufacturing remains a significant positive for the Irish economy.

With domestic demand never big enough to drive the manufacturing sector, it remains far more dependent on conditions elsewhere.

Irish Independent

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