Government debt, bonds and securities, decreases to €867bn
OUTSTANDING Irish government debt securities, including long-term bonds, totalled €111bn at the end of December according to new data – an increase of 26pc compared to the same month a year before. But the combined amount of outstanding debt securities issued by Irish financial and non-financial firms, and by the government sector, was €867bn at end-December 2013 – a decrease of 5pc.
This was driven by the banking sector; market-based debt financing for banks decreased by almost €2.8bn in the month of December alone.
IRISH-owned mining company Fastnet Oil and Gas has received an extension of its exploration licence at a site off the coast of Morocco. The Foum Assaka licence will be extended for 30 months to June 2016, during which time one exploration well must be drilled. Fastnet managing director Paul Griffiths said the company would now work with its joint venture partners to develop a drilling programme. The company's costs, he added, will be covered.
"On receipt of all regulatory approvals and completion of the farm-out agreement with SK Innovation, Fastnet will be carried through its share of drilling costs for the initial Foum Assaka commitment well, as previously announced, and in any follow-up appraisal well in the event of a discovery," he said.
The news comes less than a week after the company revealed it had received an extension on two licence options in the Celtic Sea, off the coast of Ireland.
BRITAIN is likely to warn Scots that they cannot have a currency union with the rest of the United Kingdom if they vote for independence in a September referendum, according to media reports. The pro-independence Scottish National Party wants to keep the pound if there is a 'yes' vote in the September 18 referendum but Chancellor George Osborne is likely to reject a currency union, reports indicate.
Prime Minister David Cameron has said that a vote to break Scotland 307-year-old union with England would undermine Britain's global clout and imperil its financial and political stability. Polls show that Scots' biggest concern about possible secession is the impact it might have on the economy. The Scottish National Party, which runs Scotland's devolved government, has made clear that it sees the creation of a currency union with the rest of the United Kingdom as central to its vision of an independent Scotland.
EURO zone industrial output fell more than expected in December, new data shows, but probably not by enough to have stopped economic growth from picking up slightly in the last three months of the year. Industrial output in the 17 countries sharing the euro in December fell 0.7pc on the month, after a downwardly revised 1.6 percent rise in November, Eurostat, the European Union statistics agency, said yesterday. Analysts polled by Reuters expected only a 0.3pc fall in December. The production decrease was driven mainly by a 2.1pc fall in output of energy and capital goods.
But economists said that on average, in the last three months of 2013, euro zone industrial production was 0.3pc higher quarter-on-quarter than in the previous three months. "The disappointing industrial production has no impact on our euro zone growth forecasts," said Marco Valli, chief euro zone economist at UniCredit. "Some of the weakness was probably due to the soft winter weather, pushing down energy production by 2.1 percent," said Peter Vanden Houte, an analyst with ING.
SALES at Italian fashion house Prada have come in below analyst expectations. Revenues were up just 9pc in the year ended January 31 to €3.59bn, preliminary figures show, hurt by economic weakness in Europe and a stronger euro. Prada, which makes luxury handbags, shoes, eye glasses and Miu Miu-branded dresses, is tentatively scheduled to give a full, audited earnings report on April 2.
Sales climbed 11pc in America and rose 5pc in Europe amid the "difficult economic environment" and a stronger euro, the company said. Greater China, which has been a major focus for investors as a crack down on corruption and conspicuous consumption has hurt sales for many luxury goods sellers, contributed €826m. The Hong Kong-listed Prada Group opened 79 new stores last year, bringing the number of directly operated stores to 540 as of the end of January. Chief executive Officer Patrizio Bertelli said he's confident of further progress this year.