The country's manufacturing sector expanded at the slowest pace in 11 months in February as growth in output, new orders and employment all eased, a survey showed today.

But growth still remained at an "elevated level" in historical terms and those surveyed expressed confidence about their output over the coming 12 months.

The AIB IHS Markit manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) slipped to 57.8 in February from 59.4 the previous month, remaining well above the 50 mark that indicates a rise in overall activity.

Output saw its slowest growth in 11 months while new orders grew at their weakest pace since November.

However, backlogs of work increased at the third-strongest pace on record, as supply and labour shortages constrained production.

Output and input price inflation accelerated to their second- and third-fastest rates on record, AIB said.

AIB's chief economist Oliver Mangan said that with rising new orders, backlogs of unfinished work continued to rise sharply.

He noted that construction firms were reporting input shortages, a further lengthening in delivery times for supplies, as well as high levels of staff absences due to Covid.

The economist said that manufacturers responded with another marked rundown in their inventories of finished goods.

"However, they remain very positive on the 12-month outlook for production, as customer demand is expected to continue strengthening with the ending of Covid restrictions," he said.

"The combination of strong demand, disruptions to supply chains, Brexit and continuing upward trend in prices of raw materials, energy and transportation, meant the pressure on costs remained very intense," he said.

"Indeed, the rate of increase in both input and output prices reaccelerated to near record levels in February," he added.