The Irish manufacturing sector performed strongly in March, according to the latest Purchasing Managers Index from AIB.

The data shows that output, new orders and exports all rose solidly for the first time since the end of last year.

It also reveals a more positive 12-month outlook for production.

However, supply chain pressures led to the fastest rate of input price inflation since March 2011.

The AIB Ireland Manufacturing PMI is a single-figure indicator of manufacturing performance.

It is derived from indicators for new orders, output, employment, suppliers' delivery times and stocks of purchases.

Any figure greater than 50.0 indicates overall improvement of the sector.

The PMI surged to 57.1 in March, from 52.0 in February, signalling a marked overall improvement in Irish manufacturing business conditions at the end of the first quarter.

The latest figure was broadly comparable with the peaks set during the past three years, and well above the long-run trend level, since 1998, of 51.8.