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DUBLIN (Reuters) - Irish manufacturing activity expanded for the 10th month running in December, albeit at its slowest pace in four months as growth in new orders weakened, a survey showed on Wednesday.
Ireland, bailed out by the European Union and International Monetary Fund two years ago, has posted steady growth in manufacturing thanks in part to a strong export sector.
But the rate of growth slipped to 51.4 in December from 52.4 a month earlier, the NCB Manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index showed, weighed down by weak domestic demand and higher energy costs.
"As a result of the strength in exports, total new business grew again in December, albeit at the slowest rate since February," said Philip O'Sullivan, chief economist at NCB Stockbrokers.
"The underlying trends remain positive," he said.
The sub-index measuring new orders fell to 50.9 from 51.9 in November, the lowest level since February, but it remained above the 50 line that separates growth from contraction.
New export orders were at their highest level in five months, buoyed by orders from the United States, survey compiler Markit said.
The survey showed rising input prices led manufacturers to increase their charges for the third time in four months.
"Output prices remain restricted by competitive pressures but increased in December and look to be getting a little firmer," O'Sullivan said.
Reporting by Conor Humphries; Editing by Hugh Lawson