DUBLIN Reuters) - Irish manufacturing activity grew more rapidly in April as new export orders came in at the fastest pace in almost two years, a survey showed on Tuesday, adding to signs the economy is weathering any early impact from
Britain's Brexit vote.
The Investec Manufacturing Purchasing Managers' index rose to a three-month high of 55.0 from 53.6 in March, staying well above the 50 mark separating growth from contraction, which it almost fell into after Britain voted to leave the European Union.
Ireland, the EU's fastest-growing economy, is widely seen as the member most at risk from Brexit due to its close trading links, but after the muted impact so far, Dublin last month raised its forecasts for economic growth for 2017 and 2018.
Some of the firms most vulnerable appear to be weathering the risks as the subindex measuring new export orders, which briefly contracted ahead of last June's referendum, rose to 58.5 from 56.2 in March, its highest level since July 2015.
"One of the key highlights is the new export orders index and firms continue to invest in providing additional resources to meet this rising client demand as evidenced by the expanding employment component," Investec Ireland chief economist Philip O'Sullivan said.
In contrast to the faster growth in hiring and purchases, sentiment among manufacturers softened to its lowest level since August. O'Sullivan said this was puzzling but that it could be due to seasonal issues as that sub-index is unadjusted.
"In any event, we reiterate our view that the outlook for Irish manufacturing firms remains positive, supported by the improving international backdrop," O'Sullivan said.
Reporting by Padraic Halpin; Editing by Hugh Lawson