Irish manufacturing sector grew last year
Ireland’s manufacturing sector continued to grow as 2012 drew to a close in contrast to the experience elsewhere in the euro zone.
However, the pace of growth slowed, with the latest NCB Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index reading 51.4 in December, down from 52.4 the previous month. A reading above 50 indicates expansion.
A breakdown of the numbers gave some cause to believe that the growth momentum of last year may be stalling. While the sub-index for output rose for the eight successive month, the increase was only slight and the weakest since August.
Similarly, while new orders rose again in December, with firms highlighting rising export orders, the rate of expansion slowed to its weakest level since February.
December employment up
The survey showed Irish manufacturing firms increased their employment during December, on the strength of greater workloads, extending the current sequence of job creation to ten months.
However, higher fuel and energy costs continued to be a headwind for the sector, pushing input prices higher for the fifth consecutive month.
In contrast to Ireland,factories in the wider euro zone sank deeper into recession last month as new orders fell foul of the deteriorating economic climate, similar surveys elsewhere showed.
Markit’s Eurozone Manufacturing PMI edged down to 46.1 in December from 46.2 the previous month.
In Europe’s largest economy, Germany, manufacturing activity shrank for the 10th consecutive month in December. New orders fell to a four-month low. French manufacturing activity also contracted for the 10th month in a row, while Spanish activity shrank for a 20th straight month.
In contrast, British manufacturing activity jumped unexpectedly in December to grow at its fastest pace since September 2011.
US manufacturing, meanwhile, expanded slightly in December, bouncing back from an unexpected contraction in November.