IRISH manufacturing output increased at the slowest pace in nine months in December.
This is according to the latest Manufacturing Purchases Managers Index (PMI) from ISH Markit.
The PMI - an indicator designed to provide a single-figure measure of the health of the manufacturing industry - posted 54.5 in December, down from 55.4 in November.
Any reading over 50 is deemed growth.
Despite this, stocks of purchases increased at the fastest rate in 49 months as firms, confident in future market conditions, stockpiled preproduction inventories.
On the price front, input cost inflation slowed to a 14-month low.
Underpinning the drop in the headline index was a slowdown in new order growth among Irish manufacturers to the weakest in eight months.
That said, the rate of increase was solid and December marked the twenty-ninth successive month of new order growth.
Additionally, panellists stated that they had experienced improved export demand from the UK and the Middle East.
Manufacturers responded to the increase in new orders by raising production in December.
However, mirroring new orders, the rate of expansion of output eased and was the slowest in nine months.
Stocks of finished goods increased for the first time in four months, albeit at a marginal pace.
On the employment front, staffing levels increased at the weakest pace in 15 months.
Despite this, the rate of expansion was solid as manufacturers sought to increase capacity in anticipation of greater future demand.
Elsewhere and sentiment among Irish manufacturers improved in December to the most positive in three months.