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Our firms are still struggling

IRELAND'S manufacturing sector stubbornly remained in contraction for a third successive month in May.

However, the latest Investec purchasing managers index indicated that there were signs of a return to stabilisation in the month as the index showed a reading of 49.7.

Any figure under 50 signals contraction in a sector, while a figure over 50 signals growth.

But Investec Ireland's chief economist Philip O'Sullivan said that a return to the pace of growth recorded during 2012 may be some months away.

COCAINE STASH IN FROZEN FISH

Brazilian police have dismantled an international drug trafficking ring that for almost two years sent cocaine to Europe hidden in crates containing frozen fish.

A Colombian, two Portuguese, three Spaniards and five Brazilians have been arrested in Portugal, Switzerland and Brazil.

The police say the drug came from Colombia and Bolivia. The cocaine was hidden inside bags of ice used to pack the fish flown to Portugal.

CHEESE 'N' TOAST RECIPE CONTEST

THE British are looking for the perfect cheese on toast receipe.

The British Cheese Board wants members of the public to share their favourite cheese on toast recipes as they try to discover the perfect formula for creating one of the country's favourite snacks.

Ruth Neale, of the Royal Society of Chemistry which is helping the board develop the formula, said: "I'm looking forward to seeing how the public's different topping choices come out in our tests."

X FACTOR FEVER

GRIPS JUDGES

It was sunshine and smiles for Britain's X Factor judges as they arrived for the first of this year's auditions.

Nicole Scherzinger, Gary Barlow, Louis Walsh and Sharon Osbourne were greeted with cheers as they entered the Hilton Glasgow Grosvenor Hotel.

Osbourne made the most glamorous entrance with a muscular, topless, kilted man on each arm.

Louis Walsh could not hide his enthusiasm. He said: "I'm happy, I'm nervous and I'm looking for stars."


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