INDUSTRIAL production slowed dramatically in the first three months of the year, wiping out gains made in 2010 and 2011, according to new Central Statistics Office figures.
Both manufacturing and industrial production fell by 5.1pc in the first quarter compared to the last quarter of 2011, and fell 3pc when compared to the same quarter last year. Manufacturing output fell by 2.6pc in March from the previous month and 5.7pc when compared to the same month a year earlier. It was the fifth consecutive annual drop.
"The recovery in production in late 2010 and early 2011 has been all but wiped out. The index is now at its lowest level since December 2009," Davy Stockbrokers said in a report. "Weak euro-area growth over the past two quarters is wei-ghing on industrial production."
The trend is likely to continue during the rest of 2012 as much of Europe languishes in recession, Davy predicted.
The seasonally-adjusted volume of total industrial output for the three-month period to March fell 4.8pc compared to the preceding three-month period. Manufacturing output was down 5.6pc, the fifth month in a row where there has been no increase year-on-year.
"Following positive growth in the second half of 2011, the start to 2012 has been disappointing," said Alan McQuaid of Bloxham Stockbrokers.
The 'modern' sector, high technology and chemical industries, showed a year-on-year fall in production for March of 7.4pc following an annual fall of 1.7pc in February and an increase of 4.4pc in January.
In the opening quarter of the year, output was down 2pc on the first quarter of 2011. The 'traditional' sector (food and beverages) posted a year-on-year fall of 2.1pc in March.