The effects of Storm Emma saw manufacturing growth falling to a 12-month low in March, according to the latest Investec Purchasing Managers’ Index for the sector.

It said that as a result of the weather event there was "clear evidence of disruption to sector output and distribution".

Although the headline PMI still point to growth, at 54.1 for March (versus 56.2 in February) it has moderated to a 12-month low.

The Output index was only marginally in positive territory last month, falling to its lowest since August 2016.

The relatively low growth coincided with another sharp rise in new orders (extending the sequence of growth here to 20 months).

The Investec survey said panellists benefited from rising demand from both domestic and overseas markets (the euro zone was mentioned as a source of strength in the latter).

Commenting on the report, Investec Chief Economist Philip O’Sullivan said the "mismatch between output growth and demand saw the rate of increase in Backlogs of Work quicken to its highest since December 2016.

"This was in spite of the utilisation of inventories by companies in an effort to fill customer orders, with Stocks of Finished Goods depleting at its fastest rate in just over six years – and this pace would have been quicker were it not for the consistent build in stocks in the four preceding months.

"Notwithstanding the weather-related disruptions to production, Irish manufacturers continued to add to headcounts during the month," he added.

The PMI also showed that on the margin side, Input Prices recorded another sharp increase in March, led by rising raw materials costs, notably for steel.

Companies were able to pass at least some of this pressure on by hiking Output Prices once again, but it wasn’t enough to prevent a second successive sub-50 reading for the Profitability Index, indicating a deterioration in this metric.

The Future Output Index of expectations was little changed last month, with around 11 times as many manufacturers anticipating growth over the coming 12 months versus those who foresee a decline.

Mr O’Sullivan said "given the generally supportive international backdrop we view this optimism as well-founded. All in all, we wouldn’t read too much into this month’s data given the weather distortions and would expect a marked improvement when the April Manufacturing PMI report is released."