New Central Statistics Office figures show that GDP was flat in the second quarter of the year after slowing by 0.7% in the first quarter.

GNP, which excludes profits from multinational firms here, grew by 4.3% in the three months from April to June - a sharp and unexpected improvement on the fall of 0.1% in the first quarter. 

The preliminary estimates from the CSO for the three months showed GDP came in at €39.7bn, unchanged from the previous quarter. 

GNP rose by 4.3% to €33bn.

Compared with the same time a year ago, GDP decreased by 1.1% while GNP rose by 2.9%. Economists had expected GDP to grow by 1% in the three months to June.

Today's figures show that industry - which includes the manufacturing, energy and building sectors - rose by 4.6% in volume in the second quarter compared to the first.

However, the combined falls in the other sectors of the economy, including the distribution, transport, software and communications sectors, resulted in no change overall in GDP between the first and second quarters of this year.

Personal expenditure fell by 0.4% on a seasonally adjusted basis between the first quarter and the second quarter of 2012, while capital investment declined by over 29% and Government expenditure fell by 3.9%, the figures show.

Merrion Stockbrokers economist Alan McQuaid said that the GDP data for the first half of 2012 suggest that the Government’s 0.7% growth target for the year as a whole could still be met, especially following the rebound in merchandise exports in July.

''But the real worry is for 2013 with the weakening global economy likely to impact negatively on projections of 2% plus growth,'' he added.

Q2 current account surplus highest in CSO series

Separate figures from the CSO today show that the balance of payments current account surplus in the second quarter was €3.325bn.

The CSO notes that this is higher than any previous quarterly surplus and compares to a surplus of €468m in the second quarter of 2011.

The CSO said the rise was due to a decrease in the ''invisibles'' deficit, which fell from €9.328 billion in the first quarter of this year to €6,769bn in the three months from April to June.

Today's figures show that merchandise exports rose by €274m to just over €22bn compared with the second quarter of 2011, while imports were down €70m to €12.056bn.

Services exports rose by €2.35bn to €22.817bn mainly due to increased business services and computer services exports.

Service imports rose by €884m to €21.473bn due to an increase in royalties and licences payments.

The CSO figures also reveal that inward direct investment decreased by €1.8bn in the three months from April to June, while portfolio investment into debt instruments by Irish investors fell by €24.3bn in the quarter.