IRELAND’s manufacturing sector has suffered the sharpest decline in more than a year and a half a half sparking fears the economy is dramatically slowing.
It comes just a day after Finance Minister Michael Noonan cut his growth projections this year because of a fall in demand for exports and weak economic conditions across Europe.
The figures from NCB Stockbrokers suggest output and new orders each declined for the second month in a row amid signs of deteriorating economic conditions.
The index fell to 48 last month, down from the reading of 48.6 in March. It was the sharpest deterioration since September 2011.
Anything over 50 signals growth, while less than 50 indicates contraction.
New orders have fallen for the third time in the last four months, while new export orders also fell despite reports of sales growth in Asian markets.
Mr Noonan yesterday admitted that the economy will expand less than he forecast in December’s Budget but insisted the economy remains on track to produce jobs and meet European Union debt targets.
The mnister said gross domestic product (GDP) will now increase by 1.3pc this year instead of the 1.5pc forecast in December as exports slow more than previously expected due to the European slowdown and the end of patents for some block buster drugs made here.