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Ireland Factory Sector Growth At 9-month Low

Ireland's manufacturing sector expanded at the slowest pace in nine months during December, survey data from IHS Markit showed on Wednesday.

The seasonally adjusted Purchasing Managers' Index, or PMI, fell to 54.5 from 55.4 in November. A reading above 50 suggests growth in the sector.

Growth in output, new orders and employment slowed in December.

New order growth was the weakest in eight months, leading to the slowest expansion in output in nine months. However, demand grew for a twenty ninth successive month and remained solid.

Export orders increased amid improved demand fron the UK and the Middle East.

Employment grew at the weakest pace in 15 months, but the pace was solid as manufacturers expanded capacity in anticipation of greater demand in the coming months.

Input prices inflation slowed to a 14-month low, while output prices remained unchanged, after a two-and-a-half year sequence of inflation.

Business optimism in December was the strongest in three months on the back of greater future customer demand, new product lines launching in 2019 and hopes of increased export sales in the US and Asia.

"While some firms saw signs of weaker demand, panelists are confident of a pick-up in the new year, supporting strong growth of purchasing activity and stockbuilding," IHS Markit economists Amritpal Virdee said.

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