First industrial output increase of year reported
IRISH industrial output rose in April for the first time since the start of the year, according to the European statistics agency.
The rise came despite a slowdown in the pace of industrial growth across Europe.
In Ireland, industrial production increased by 1.3pc for the month and was up 6.8pc compared with the same time last year.
The industrial output figures are seen as a good pointer to GDP data due at the end of this month. Irish GDP will be closely watched to see if the bailout programme remains on track.
The April figures are a dramatic improvement after output fell in January, February and March. Even with a return to positive territory, Ireland has fallen behind faster-growing economies inside and outside the euro area. Latvia and Sweden each recorded rises of more than 10pc in industrial output. Estonia has seen a staggering 32pc rise in output over 12 months.
"The figures for the year to date are disappointing and the risk is for further downside," said Alan McQuaid, the chief economist at Bloxham stockbrokers.
He said Irish output figures could be erratic, because of the large proportion of bulk chemicals and pharmaceutics products in the Irish data.
Production in the sector can rise and fall quickly, depending on global demand.
However, he said the latest figures suggested that the indigenous export sector was growing, even with the euro stronger than Irish exporters would want against sterling.
Industrial production rose by 0.2pc in April across the 17 countries that use the euro, but the rate of expansion has fallen. Output across the entire 27-member European Union fell by over the same period by 0.2pc.
On an annual basis, production here grew by 6.8pc, compared with 5.2pc for the eurozone.
The biggest declines were recorded in Greece, down 10.7pc; Portugal, down 1.7pc; and Spain, down 1.6pc. The UK, which is a key market for Ireland, also recorded a decline.