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Irish exports surge to record high in August

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* Exports up 16 percent m/m to 9.1 bln euros

* Seasonal factors inflate numbers to all-time high

* Economists say figures bode well for Q3 growth

(.)

DUBLIN, Oct 12 (Reuters) - Irish goods exports surged 16percent in August to hit a record high on strong food andchemicals exports, which economists said could provide a boostto the economy in the third quarter.

Exports hit an all-time high of 9.1 billion euros on aseasonally adjusted basis, although the Central StatisticsAgency said the number was distorted by the fact that businesseswere dropping summer production levels less than in the past.

Without the seasonal weighting, exports were worth 8.3billion euros, their highest level since March.

"These figures are very encouraging, and point to a strongerGDP performance in Q3 than in Q2," said Alan McQuaid, chiefeconomist at Merrion Stockbrokers.

"The bottom line is that the export sector has been the maindriver of Irish economic activity in recent times and willremain the key growth engine for some period to come."

Ireland's economy grew at a sharper pace than much of theeuro zone last year, primarily due to its robust export sector.

That has added to hopes that Dublin may be the first of thegovernments bailed out in the debt crisis to get its publicfinances and economy back on track.

Demand from Irish consumers and businesses has fallen eachyear since 2008 due to high unemployment and governmentausterity, however.

Irish GDP was flat in the second quarter and a poll ofeconomists said the economy would grow by 0.4 percent in thethird quarter and by 0.5 percent over the year.

Compared to their levels last year, chemicals, includingpharmaceutical products, were up 21 percent. Food exports were8.5 percent higher on the year, while machinery was up 10.8percent.

(Reporting by Conor Humphries; Editing by Catherine Evans)

((conor.humphries@thomsonreuters.com)(+353 1 500 1518)(ReutersMessaging: conor.humphries.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net))

Keywords: IRELAND ECONOMICS/TRADE

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