Ireland’s manufacturing sector continued to expand at a solid pace in March, driven by a series-record increase in employment, survey figures from Markit Economics showed Wednesday.

The seasonally adjusted Investec purchasing managers’ index, or PMI, dropped slightly to 56.8 in March from February’s 15-year high of 57.5. However, any reading above 50 indicates expansion in the sector.

Manufacturing output rose sharply in March, led by increasing new business from both domestic and export sources.

New orders climbed for the twenty-first consecutive month in March amid the launch of new products. The latest expansion was due to the relative weakness of the euro against sterling which helped firms to secure new business in the UK.

Greater production requirements forced firms to raise their staffing levels in March and which was the fastest pace since the survey began in 1998. Backlogs of work also increased for the second month running in March.

On the price front, a depreciation of the euro against both the US dollar and sterling led to the first rise in input costs since the end of 2014. Meanwhile, selling prices continued to fall in March.

“We now have a complete picture on how the Irish manufacturing sector performed during Q1 and the results are very encouraging indeed. If there is one area of (slight) concern at this time it is that any uncertainty ahead of next month’s UK election, particularly if it impacts the currency markets, would be unhelpful, given that our closest neighbour has repeatedly been identified as a key source of demand by firms in the sector,” Philip O’Sullivan, Chief Economist at Investec Ireland, said.

“To that end, we would encourage Irish manufacturing firms to consider strategies to protect themselves against any near-term volatility,”he added.

The material has been provided by InstaForex Company – www.instaforex.com