Business conditions in the manufacturing industry worsened for the fifth time in the past six months in November, according to AIB's purchasing managers index for the sector.

A reduction in output saw workforce numbers declining for the first time since September 2016. 

The headline figure came in at 49.7 in the month, which is down from 50.7 in October, but above the levels of 48.6- 48.7 recorded from July to September.

Any measure below 50 signals contraction in a sector.

On the demand front, inflows of new business increased for the second month running in November, albeit at a marginal pace. 

Export sales decreased in the month with the rate of contraction quickening amid weaker demand from US and UK customers.

Brexit uncertainty continued to weigh on sentiment, but it improved enough to see confidence levels reaching a seven month high.

"The AIB manufacturing PMI for November shows that the sector remains in the doldrums, where it has been for the past six months, as a weak external environment continues to weigh on activity,'’ Oliver Mangan, AIB Chief economist said. 

"Overall, conditions in Irish manufacturing are best described as being as being flat."

"The primary source of the slowdown in manufacturing is weakening foreign demand. While total orders again rose marginally in November, new export orders fell for a fifth consecutive month and at a solid pace. Firms report that Brexit related weakness in the UK as well as softer US demand are weighing on export orders."

Despite a disappointing reading for November, the Irish manufacturing PMI remains well above the average for the euro zone.

It also stands ahead of the UK where a some strength in the domestic economy is supporting activity.