THE manufacturing sector expanded slightly in April, new figures show.
And while there was a contraction in output, this was offset by a rise in new orders and exports.
THE NCB Manufacturing PMI edged into expansion territory at 50.1 but output registered 48.7.
There was some optimism about the domestic economy with new orders increasing and firms hiring.
"The domestic part of the economy is starting to look a bit better and tomorrow's unemployment data should show a further tick down in the unemployment rate, " said NCB chief economist Brian Devine.
"The external data though is a drag, particularly from the euro area, and as a result industrial production was down 3.9pc in the quarter to February 2012.
“The data from Europe is still weak and its unlikely that Friday's industrial production data for March will do enough to alter a first quarter decline."