Growth in the manufacturing sector moderated in February after record expansion at the end of last year amid indications that capacity constraints may be starting to emerge in the fast growing economy. 

Investec's Manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) eased to 56.2 from 57.6 in January having at the end of 2017 reached the highest level since it began measuring the performance of the sector almost 20 years ago. 

However, February's growth still marked the 57th consecutive month the index has remained above the 50 mark separating growth from contraction.

Respondents to the survey reported a pick-up in orders from overseas customers, particularly in Europe, Asia and Africa.

But Investec said other sub-indices showed signs of strain in supply chains with cost pressures elevated and firms recording increases in the backlogs of work for the 10th month in a row. 

Most notably, suppliers' delivery times lengthened at a substantial pace with the sub-index measuring performance deteriorating to 40.9 to 43.8.

This was the second-lowest mark since the survey began in May 1998. 

"Our narrative for some time has been that the quickening in global growth - Ireland is one of the world's most open economies - will underpin continued expansion for the manufacturing sector here," Investec Ireland's chief economist Philip O'Sullivan said.  

"In that regard, we are unsurprised by the headline progress advertised by this latest PMI release, although the capacity issues will require careful monitoring at least in the coming months," he added.