Thursday 19 July 2018

What it says in the papers: business pages

Paul O'Donoghue

Here are the main business stories from this morning's papers:`

Irish Independent:

***Financial markets around the world fell yesterday, oil traded lower and the value of the dollar dropped amid investor unease over the health of the global economy.

Wall Street fell sharply for the fourth straight day on opening as traders slashed odds that the US Federal Reserve would hike interest rates next month – the first  rise in nine years – after the central bank continued to voice concerns about lagging inflation in the world’s largest economy.

In the UK, the FTSE 100 fell for an eighth straight day and was around 10pc lower than its high in April, meaning it moved into correction territory.

***The head of a parliamentary inquiry into the controversial sale of Nama’s Northern loan portfolio has alleged that efforts are being made to hinder its investigation.

The probe, launched by the Northern Ireland Assembly’s Committee on Finance and Personnel, has had difficulty making progress since it was launched last month.

Its chairman, Sinn Féin MLA Daithí McKay, said the latest stumbling block arose from a letter issued by the head of the North’s civil service, Dr Malcolm McKibben.

***The High Court has backed Petroceltic in a row over a website that had made allegations about the oil and gas explorer.

In a statement, Petroceltic said the court has ordered the deletion of the “blogsite and prevented the further publication of material posted by the blogger, finding, prima facie, that the material on the blog is defamatory of Petroceltic”.

The court also ordered that the company that hosted the website name the person responsible for making the allegations.

Irish Times:

***Previously banned Irish beef exports to the US came to just €194,000 in the first six months of the year, well below the Government’s target for €100m by the end of 2015.

According to figures from the Central Statistics Office Ireland has only shipped 31 tonnes of beef to the US since the ban was lifted at the start of the year, the Irish Times reports.

The figures are likely to come as a disappointment to Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney, who predicted that the US could be a €100m market, as well as industry figures who would have been hoping to take advantage of historically high beef prices.

***Irish household debt dropped by €3.7bn or €33,530 per capita in the first quarter of the year, according to the Central Bank.

This was the largest drop in debt since the second quarter of 2010. Total household debt now stands at €154.6bn.

However, the Central Bank noted that despite the drop Irish household debt still remains high compared to other countries, with only the Netherlands and Denmark having higher levels of debt relative to disposable income in the same period.

***Profits increased by 72pc to $4.2m (€3.75m) at John Fitzpatrick’s two New York hotels last year, the Irish Times reports.

The strong financial performance was helped by high average occupancy rates of 90pc throughout the year as well as the non-recurrence of a one-off charge of $1.6m in 2013 from loan refinancing.

Accounts for Fitzpatrick Hotels Ltd show that revenue at the Manhattan hotels rose by 3.2pc to $26.2m in the year to the end of September 2014.

Irish Examiner:

***The European Commission has urged Greece to stick to commitments it has made to reform its economy as prime minister Alexis Tsipras called a snap election within hours of new EU bailout cash arriving in Athens.

“It is crucial that Greece maintains its commitments to the eurozone,” said Dutch finance minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem, who as chair of his eurozone peers, led talks on a new €86bn facility agreed last Friday.

His comments came in the wake of yesterday’s announcement that Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras has handed in his resignation and called a snap election.

***The Central Bank has spent €119m on professional fees since 2011 that includes a spend of €27.55m last year.

Figures released by the Central Bank in response to a Freedom of Information request show that the spend last year was marginally bigger that the 2013 spend of €26.98m.

The largest annual spend over the period was in 2011 when €35.2m was spent. However, the lowest spend – on a pro-rata basis – is this year with €7m spent on professional fees for the first six months.

***A new body to oversee Ireland’s aviation policy is to be established amid concerns that Dublin airport is running out of capacity while regional airports are struggling to survive.

The country’s first National Aviation policy, published yesterday after a two-year consultation process, will lead to the establishment of the National Aviation Development Forum which will be led by the department of Transport and industry representatives.

Among other measures, the document states that the development of a second runway should begin at Dublin airport in anticipation of further traffic growth.

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