Growth in the manufacturing sector surged to an 18-year high in November, with strong new orders at home and abroad defying fears Brexit would trigger a slowdown in the economy. 

The Investec Purchasing Managers' index indicated strong growth is likely to continue as it climbed to 58.1 in November, its highest level since December 1999, from 54.4 in October. 

The index has remained above the 50 mark separating growth from contraction for over four years.

"Irish manufacturing businesses remain very upbeat about the prospects for the sector, with only one in 16 panellists expecting to see a reduction in production over the coming 12 months," Investec Ireland's chief economist Philip O'Sullivan said. 

"We believe that manufacturers here are right to feel confident," he said, citing the country's open economy and the International Monetary Fund's forecast for global economic growth to hit a seven year high of 3.7% next year. 

The expansion in the new business subindex was the fastest since the end of 1999 and one of the steepest in the survey's history, the survey's authors said. 

Those companies surveyed linked higher output to new order growth in both domestic and export markets. New export orders have now risen in each of the past 15 months. 

Meanwhile, employment has risen in each of the past 14 months, with growth strongest in consumer and investment goods.

Ireland is widely seen as the European Union country most exposed to Britain's decision to leave the European Union, but after the muted initial impact of the Brexit vote, the Government this year raised its economic growth forecasts for 2017 and 2018.