Sharpest Irish manufacturing growth in almost two years
The pace of growth in the Irish manufacturing sector rose to a near two-year high last month thanks to rising new orders and improving economic conditions.
New business rose at a faster pace, and while new export orders slowed, the rate of growth still remained substantial, according to the latest Purchasing Managers Index for the sector.
Philip O'Sullivan, economist with specialist bank Investec, which produced the data, said the expectation is for further strong figures over the coming months. "Last month we outlined our belief that the outlook for Irish manufacturing firms remains positive, supported by the improving international backdrop," Mr O'Sullivan said.
"After estimated growth of 3.1pc in 2016 we forecast that the global economy will expand by 3.6pc this year and by a further 3.9pc next year.
"So given such a supportive profile, we would anticipate further strong manufacturing PMI readings over the coming quarters."
The seasonally adjusted PMI rose to 55.9 in May, from 55 the previous month.
That was the greatest improvement since July 2015.
Manufacturers also took on extra staff in May, the eighth month running in which job creation was recorded.
The pace at which employment rose was also the fastest in two years.
It was a similarly positive picture in the UK, where the British manufacturing sector had its second fastest growth in almost three years.
The Markit/CIPS manufacturing purchasing managers' index (PMI) slipped to 56.7 in May from a three-year high in April.
Rob Dobson, economist with IHS Markit, which produces the data, said the strong PMI numbers suggest that the manufacturing sector has gained momentum following the sluggish start to the year.
"The ongoing strength of the domestic market remains the main driver of the upturn," Mr Dobson said.
"Growth of new export business played a lesser role in comparison, with the trend in foreign demand continuing to improve only in fits and starts, despite the existence of an historically weak sterling exchange rate."