Irish manufacturing growth rebounded to an eight-month high in March as faster expansions in output and new orders suggested firms in the euro zone's fastest-growing economy were weathering a tough global economic outlook.
The Investec Manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index rose to 54.9 from a two-year low of 52.9 in February, data showed, extending its run above the 50 line denoting growth to almost three straight years.
The improvement was largely driven by a rise in the new orders sub-index to 56.5 from 54.0 in February, which had represented the weakest pace of growth in demand for new business since November 2013.
Notwithstanding the gains, which kept manufacturers well above the average among euro zone peers, the average mark of 54.0 for the first three months of the year was slower than the expansion of 56.5 in the corresponding period a year ago.
"The implied pace of expansion remains slower than the strong growth that was seen for much of 2014 and the first half of 2015. Our mantra for some time has been that Ireland will not be immune to any slowdown in international trade," said Philip O'Sullivan, Chief Economist at Investec Ireland.
"However, with the sequence of growth in the quantity of purchases index now extending to 26 months and firms continuing to recruit staff, it is clear Irish manufacturers are confident that they can safely navigate through choppier waters."