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In brief: Latte sales

Sales of lattes at Ireland's best coffee chain Insomnia were down 18 per cent compared with the same week last year. However, this is because Good Friday meant one less day of trading, and week days are busier than weekends in the coffee business. Takeaway coffee is an extraordinarily sensitive barometer of consumer confidence and spending . . . and it is also highly susceptible to changes in the weather.

10-year Irish bond yield

Over the course of the week, the 10-year Irish government bond yield has found itself a whisker below where it was last week -- at 10.436 per cent versus 10.48 per cent. This very slight decrease, given the continuing slough of problems across the periphery, is a sign that Ireland is holding its own.

Cinema box office

Cinema-goers splashed out €1.32m at the box office last weekend, recording a massive 59 per cent jump on the same week last year. But it was Easter, and bigger films such as the silly Fast & Furious 5, Rio and Thor (above) did better than stuff like last year's Dear John and Date Night. Cinema is cheap entertainment, which tends to do well when people need escapism and don't fancy spending money on expensive nights out. Good box office = weak economy.

Retail index

Domestic consumption is the largest constituent of our national income and can be measured by the Retail Sales Index. According to the Central Statistics Office, the value of retail sales decreased by 1.2 per cent (year-on-year) in March -- but with the motor industry stripped out, this gap widens to 2.5 per cent.

Ratio of new enterprises/ companies closing down

Last week saw a huge decrease in the ratio between companies setting up and companies shutting down, falling dramatically from 6 to just 0.4. This is a disastrous decline.

CPL & Grafton Group share prices

CPL Resources, the listed recruitment agency traded absolutely flat last week, without deviating from its share price at all. Grafton Group opened the week at €3.53 and fell by 1.9 per cent, reflecting a fall in confidence in the DIY retail company.

Online buying

Ireland's biggest gift website www.giftsdirect.com saw sales for Easter 2011 rising by 9 per cent on 2010. Number of orders were up by 15 per cent. However, average order value on Easter sales fell by 8 per cent, showing that people are still willing to buy gifts for occasions such as Easter -- but are spending slightly less.

Put/call ratio on silver

The put/call ratio fell by 6 per cent last week, reflecting the market's willingness to bet the price of silver will fall. The bull market in the shiny metal quantifies the market's fear about fiat currency, and hence a fall in this indicator is a positive sign.

Fuel prices

The average price of petrol stayed absolutely flat last week at €1.519, but the cost of diesel per litre increased by 1c to €1.479. This is a bad signal for all those travelling around the country during the Easter season, and even marginal increases impact heavily on the already tight margin of companies in the transport and haulage sectors.

Sunday Indo Business