In brief: Retail sector stalls, lobby group claims
There was little real growth in the retail sector in the first quarter, according to lobby group Retail Ireland.
"Despite improvement in key economic indicators across the general economy, the retail sector continues to lag behind," said Retail Ireland director Tom Burke. "While sales volumes have improved, sales values remain sluggish, finishing just 0.9pc ahead of the same period last year."
Construction sector soared in April
The Irish construction sector went up a gear in April as new orders and employment rose. Companies remained strongly optimistic that activity will increase over the coming year, according to the Ulster Bank construction index.
However, builders complained of another sharp increase in input prices as the euro continues to weaken. The construction index jumped to 57.2 in April from 52.9 in March. Activity has now expanded in each of the past 20 months. "Following disappointing readings in the first quarter, the April results paint a picture of a sector experiencing renewed improvement," said Ulster Bank economist Simon Barry.
AIB okays €60m loans from SBCI
Allied Irish Banks said it gave loans worth €60m from the bank's €200m fund backed by the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland (SBCI). The loans were made in the first three months of the year.
AIB said there had been strong demand from businesses and farmers for the loans, which have an interest rate of 4.5pc a year. This is the cheapest standard variable rate for business loans in the market.
"AIB is pleased with the level of uptake of the SBCI-backed fund. It is very encouraging to see the range and scale of the 1,300 businesses that have been approved," said AIB's Ken Burke.