Manufacturing activity grew for the 13th month in a row in June as new orders hit their highest level in over three years, a new survey shows today. 

The Investec Manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index rose to 55.3 in June from 55 in May, edging further above the 50 line dividing growth in activity from contraction. 

The sub-index for new orders among manufacturers rose to 58.7 from 55.6, the highest level since February 2011. 

Manufacturing accounts for about a quarter of gross domestic product here, according to World Bank figures. 

"The sharp increase in new orders was attributed to improving economic conditions and higher demand from abroad," Investec Ireland's chief economist Philip O'Sullivan said. 

"Given the improving economic conditions at home and abroad and manufacturers' own confidence - as evidenced by their on-going willingness to increase staffing levels and purchasing activity - the outlook for the rest of the year looks bright," the economist added. 

GDP data for the first quarter of the year will be released on Thursday after the economy surprisingly contracted at the end of last year as consumer spending fell and export growth remained sluggish. 

The economy is forecast to grow by 2.3% this year, a Reuters survey of economists showed last week, more than the 2.1% expansion the Government has predicted.