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Syndicated News Archives - Page 5 of 258 - Ansell Ryan Young

Brexit negotiations face crunch issues

Brexit negotiations between the UK and the EU are due to reconvene on Thursday in Brussels.

The European Union is signalling that it wants to make September a decisive month in the divorce negotiations, while British Prime Minister Theresa May is more in favour of a late-autumn deadline. The talks are expected to continue on Friday.

Tomorrow, China will release its industrial production and retail sales data for July.

Of interest to investors will be the impact, if any, of US sanctions on the figures.

Meanwhile back home, KBC Bank Ireland, along with the ESRI, will release the Consumer Sentiment Index for July today.

Glenveagh Properties is due to hold an extraordinary general meeting today, where the company will ask shareholders to formally approve its recent funding round of €213m.

Tomorrow, the Central Statistics Office will release the residential property price index for June. This will be followed on Wednesday by the release of the imports and exports data from the CSO.

Looking ahead, the outcome of an internal investigation into FBD boss Fiona Muldoon could become known shortly.

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Construction growth raises building costs

Ireland’s construction sector is now growing so fast that shortages of some building materials and services are being reported.

That’s led to higher prices for steel, insulation and transport.

The latest Ulster Bank Construction Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI), which tracks the country’s building activity, rose to 60.7 in July from 58.4 in June. Any reading above 50 indicates expansion, any figure below, contraction.

The survey’s participants noted housing construction is now particularly strong, albeit still well below levels needed to meet demand.

However, the PMI for housebuilding specifically hit 63.9 in July. That’s one of the sector’s highest readings in the survey’s 18-year history.

The latest data from the Central Statistics Office shows that the number of house completions hit 3,525 in the first quarter of 2018, up 26.9pc year-on-year.

Activity in the commercial sector – which includes offices and warehouses, for example – increased sharply last month compared to June, according to the latest figures.

The civil engineering sector also returned to growth after two consecutive months of decline.

“Firms continue to benefit from sharp rises in incoming new business flows as they report ongoing improvement in client demand for their services,” said Simon Barry, chief economist for the Republic of Ireland with Ulster Bank.

“In turn, the buoyancy of activity and orders patterns continues to underpin strong demand for construction workers, with the pace of job creation remaining substantial in July, albeit not quite as exceptionally strong as June,” he added.

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Explainer: Why families will pay €300 extra for fuel to warm their homes in winter

Householders face paying an extra €300 this winter for oil to fuel their heating systems.

A surge in the cost of home heating oil and the price of petrol and diesel have pushed up the inflation rate to its highest level in more than a year.

The cost of filling an oil tank has gone up by almost a third in the past year, according to the latest consumer price index figures from the Central Statistics Office (CSO).

Despite a small fall in the cost of heating oil in July, over the past year the price is up by 29.3pc.

This means it will now cost around €160 more for a fill of 1,000 litres of oil for the winter than it did this time last year.

Families will have to shell out up to €750, compared with around €550 last year.

The cost of 1,000 litres is between €690 and €750 at the moment, according to price comparison site

Rises in the cost of a barrel of oil on international markets are sending up the cost of domestic fuels.

Most homes will require at least two oil fills during the winter months, which means they will have to pay up to €300 more.

Almost two-thirds of rural homes and more than a quarter of urban households use oil to fuel their central heating and water boilers, according to Census figures.


Michael Toner of said heating oil was four times dearer than in Northern Ireland due to higher taxes and levies, including carbon tax.

“August is surprisingly one of our busiest months where consumers are actively encouraged to order early, and we would also recommend heating oil users to order now when distributors are less busy and for the best service,” he said.

The surge in the cost of home heating oil comes after six energy firms hiked their prices this month, raising the price of electricity and gas by up to €200 for some householders who use both fuels.

It was also revealed this week that electricity and gas prices in this country are among the most expensive in Europe.

Petrol prices are up 11pc in the past year and diesel prices were up 14pc.

Air fares have also risen with strikes at Ryanair potentially linked to this trend. Members of the travel industry this week claimed prices at rival airlines had taken off.

The cost of airfares was up a huge 32pc in the month of July, although the cost is down 9pc on a year ago.

Costs at restaurants and cafés were up 2pc on the year, something which will be closely watched as the Government considers scrapping the special 9pc VAT rate for the sector.

Rents were up 6pc in the past year, with pressure to find reasonably priced accommodation contributing to the rent crisis.

Motor insurance prices are down 6.7pc on the year, but this comes after years of steep rises.

Overall, prices were up 0.8pc in July compared with the same month last year, according to the CSO, the highest inflation rate since April last year.

Alan McQuaid, economist with Merrion Stockbrokers, said that despite strong economic growth, there was little sign of sustained pressure on prices.

“This appears to be the same story across the eurozone, suggesting that the European Central Bank will be in no hurry to increase interest rates,” he said.

He said the direction of oil prices would be critical in determining the headline inflation rate over the next year.

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Doubts grow about Musk’s drive to take Tesla private

Doubts about Elon Musk’s ability to take Tesla private mounted across Wall Street yesterday, wiping out the gains reaped from his initial tweet floating the idea.

The stock plunged as much as 4.6pc to $353.33, below where it was trading two days ago and well off the $420 at which Mr Musk said shareholders would be bought out.

The shares have dropped on back-to-back days after having jumped 11pc on Tuesday, when Mr Musk vowed that he had “funding secured” for a spectacular $82bn deal.

Since that initial tweet, though, he has offered no evidence to back up the statement. Nor has anyone stepped forward publicly – or privately – to say they’re behind the plan. People with, or close to, 15 financial institutions and technology firms who spoke on the condition of anonymity said they weren’t aware of financing having been locked in before Mr Musk’s tweet.

“I don’t really understand the idea of what was suggested in the potential for them to go private,” Dick Weil, CEO of Janus Henderson Group, said in an interview with Bloomberg Television. “That’s obviously an incredibly large valuation to somehow take into the private market.”

All of which could be problematic as the Securities and Exchange Commission starts investigating the matter.

Regulators have asked the company if what Mr Musk tweeted was factual and why such a disclosure was made via social media rather than in a filing, according to ‘The Wall Street Journal’, citing unidentified people familiar with the matter. Judith Burns, an SEC spokeswoman, declined to comment.

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UK business leaders urge scrapping of immigration targets after Brexit

Targets to limit immigration should be scrapped after Brexit, UK business lobby group the CBI has recommended.

Businesses need a new immigration policy, avoiding visas for EU citizens and putting migration on the table for trade talks, according to its new report ‘Open And Controlled – A New Approach To Migration’.

Evidence from 129,000 firms across 18 industry sectors in the report showed the importance of migration at all skill levels, said CBI deputy director-general Josh Hardie.

He called for “blunt targets” to be axed to enable companies to hire the staff they need.

“This is no longer a theoretical debate,” he said. “It’s about the future of our nation. Openness and control must not be presented as opposites.

“Scrapping blunt targets, ensuring all who come to the UK contribute and using the immigration dividend to support public services will add to public confidence.

“Many sectors are already facing shortages, from nurses to software engineers – so fast, sustainable, evidence-based action is needed.”

The report highlights how businesses do not just need “the brightest and best” immigrants, but different skill levels across many different sectors.

Mr Hardie outlined the contribution made by EU immigrants to building Britain’s houses – from labourers and electricians to architects – and in food and drink, starting with farm workers, through logistics and into hospitality.

“The stakes couldn’t be higher,” he said. “Get it wrong, and the UK risks having too few people to run the NHS, pick fruit or deliver products to stores around the country.

“This would hurt us all – from the money in our pockets to our access to public services.

“The needs are more complex than only ensuring that the UK can attract the ‘brightest and best’.”

And he called for greater migration to be part of future trade negotiations to allow the UK economy to grow, as well as reform of the non-EU immigration system of visas.

“For Global Britain to succeed, the UK must send the right signals that show it remains open and welcoming to the world,” he said.

“That means putting migration on the table in trade talks to get us a better deal, first with the EU and then other countries, where it is clear existing visa restrictions inhibit trade and foreign direct investment.”

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Revenue increases at Kerry, but currency headwinds impact results

Revenue at Kerry Group rose 1.4pc year-on-year to €3.2bn in the six months to June 30.

The growth in revenue reflected volume growth of 3.6pc and a 0.6pc improvement in pricing, as well as the contribution from acquisitions, according to interim results from the group.

However the consumer foods business saw its trading margin decrease by 10 basis points to 10.5pc, as strong volume growth and contribution from acquisitions were offset by adverse currency movements.

On a constant currency basis, group sales increased by 8pc year-on-year.

Group trading profit came in at €340m, up 0.5pc year-on-year, and up 8.7pc in constant currency.

“Evolving consumer trends and the changing marketplace have provided increased opportunities and demand for Kerry’s industry leading RD&A and broad technology portfolio,” Edmond Scanlon, CEO of Kerry Group, said.

“This, along with the group’s enhanced end use market focus, drove healthy volume growth and underlying margin expansion in the first half of 2018. We also continued to make progress with and invest in business development initiatives aligned to our strategic growth priorities.”

During the six month period the group’s taste and nutrition business reported volume growth of 4.1pc, while its consumer foods business reported volume growth of 1.3pc.

Looking forward the group said it was updating its guidance for the year and now expect to achieve growth in adjusted earnings per share of 7pc to 10pc in constant currency.

The group had previously expected to achieve growth in adjusted earnings per share of 6pc to 10pc in constant currency.

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Profits jump 80pc at North’s biggest firms

Northern Ireland’s biggest companies have seen their profits increase by almost 80pc in 12 months.

This is according to the 2018 ‘Top 100 Companies’ from industry magazine ‘Ulster Business’.

Leading the way was Armagh-based poultry producer Moy Park, which reported a turnover of £1.4bn (€1.57bn) over 12 months.

This is the seventh year in a row that the North’s largest private sector business has topped the list.

Moy Park processes over 280 millions birds a year, in addition to producing around 200,000 tons of prepared foods annually.

It saw its profits increase to £59.7m (€66.9m) last year from £35.7m the previous year.

Chris Kirke, president of Moy Park, said that it was the “great people” within the business that have made it the successful company it is today.

“It is our talented team and our focus on enhancing operations across our facilities, that will ensure we can continue to innovate, thrive and grow,” said Mr Kirke.

Overall, turnover among the Ulster Business Top 100 – now in its 30th year – increased by around 9pc, rising to £23.85bn from £21.88bn, when comparing company accounts year-on-year.

Pre-tax profits for the 100 companies making the list grew by 79pc, rising to £924.9m from £517.5m the previous year.

One of the biggest jumps on the list was from Graham Construction.

During the 12-month period the company saw its revenue soar by more than £200m to £759m.

“This year’s Top 100 Companies list is another clear example of the strength of Northern Ireland’s business landscape, right across the sectors,” John Mulgrew, Ulster Business editor, said.

“The majority of company results have taken place during the ongoing stasis, with a lack of a devolved government in Northern Ireland, which makes the huge surges in profit, and turnover, even more impressive.”

There were more than a dozen new entrants to this year’s list, from right across the business spectrum, including Belfast technology firm Kainos, and Mac Interiors, which is based in Newry.

The Ulster Business Top 100 edition was welcomed by Michael Neill, head of A&L Goodbody in Belfast, which sponsored the list.

“We have been inspired by their drive, determination and resilience, and the example they set to Northern Ireland plc,” Mr Neill said. “We very much look forward to seeing their businesses continue to thrive over the next 12 months.”

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Building costs rapidly rising to Celtic Tiger peak: surveyors

Construction costs will surpass 2006 levels this year and are rapidly approaching the highest levels of the Celtic Tiger bubble, according to new figures from the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland (SCSI).

The higher prices have big implications for delivery of the Government’s ‘Ireland 2040’ strategic development plan, in particular for the success and cost of large infrastructure projects.

Higher wages, plus steel and timber costs are driving up the price contractors are seeking to pitch for projects, the SCSI found.

Des O’Broin, president of the SCSI, described the increases as concerning in the shorter term and a challenge for those involved in procurement, especially public procurement which is a fixed-price tender process.

“The current rate of increase is simply not sustainable in the long term,” Mr O’Broin warned.

“The major reason cited by SCSI members for the continuing increase in tender prices is ever-increasing workload, coupled with the skills shortage being experienced by both main contractors and specialist sub-contractors.”

Drivers of higher costs include changes to building regulations and the impact of Sectoral Employment Orders (SEOs), which replaced the old registered employment agreements in the construction industry last year, and set minimum terms for pay, pensions and other benefits employers must provide, he said.

“Labour prices are also rising on foot of the Sectoral Employment Order while the price of steel, timber and other materials, as well as oil, are also increasing,” Mr O’Broin added.

“Other factors contributing to the increase include the application of new Nearly Zero Energy Building regulations – although these will lead to reduced running costs for buildings over their life cycle.

“Further uncertainty around Brexit and tariffs arising from a global trade war are likely to be other contributors” he added.

The Chartered Surveyors said the increases are symptoms of high levels of activity and limited resources.

It will feed into either higher costs, fewer projects, or potentially both, and will inevitably feed concerns of an overheating economy. The SCSI Tender Price Index tracks the bid levels when construction firms pitch for contracts.

The latest quarterly update today shows that prices increased by 3.95pc in the first half of 2018.

The forecasted annual increase for 2018 will be 7.4pc, almost half a percentage point ahead of what the Society predicted at the start of the year.

It means construction prices are on course to be back to the level they were at in the first half of 2006 and just five index points below the peak in the first half of 2007 – which has long been regarded as unsustainable.

“Given the continued rise in tender prices over a relatively short period of time, it will be a concern for contracting authorities receiving tender proposals for national projects that contractors may well run into financial difficulty halfway through – as evidenced in recent school delivery projects,” Mr O’Broin said.

The index shows prices in the first half of 2018 rising fastest in Dublin and the rest of Leinster, but increases were common across all of the regions.

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Counties in the west worst hit as 161 postmasters take redundancy

The west of the country looks set to lose dozens of post offices after it was confirmed 161 postmasters have been granted voluntary redundancy.

An Post said the 161 postmasters’ offices, from among a network of 1,111, were now “likely” to close.

It comes after a leaked document containing a portion of those taking the redundancy showed how rural areas in the west are particularly exposed in comparison to eastern areas.

Of the 110 towns on the document obtained by the Irish Independent, 13 are in Donegal, 12 in Mayo, 10 in both Cork and Galway, and four in Kerry.

This compared to just two areas in the capital, two in Kildare and one in Wicklow. The only county not to have a post office appear on the list was also in the east – Louth.

An Post did not comment on the veracity of the document but said a list would be issued at the end of August once the details had been confirmed with each postmaster.

“Some closures were inevitable in a network that has been largely unchanged for many years,” said Debbie Byrne (inset), head of An Post retail. “We appreciate that these decisions have not been easy for the individual postmasters and we are grateful for their dedication over many years of service in their communities.”

An Post said communities of more than 500 people would have a post office and that 95pc of the population would be within 15km of at least one post office. All island post offices are being retained.

The move has sparked concern among rural representatives about the impact closures will have, especially in isolated areas.

Labour’s Martin Farren, mayor of the Inishowen municipal district in Donegal, said the area had already suffered from the closure of banks.

“It’s going to make an impact on rural Ireland. It’s very worrying,” he said.

Mr Farren pointed out that if all post offices on the peninsula listed in the document closed, it would be an hour round trip for some people to go to a post office. “It would especially affect the older people who go and collect their pensions on a Friday,” he said.

Fianna Fáil communications spokesperson Timmy Dooley said the Government should not be allowing so many post offices in rural Ireland to close.

“An Post and the Government cannot be allowed to use these redundancies as a smokescreen to close the post offices,” he said.

“This would constitute a direct attack on these communities and on rural Ireland.”

He added: “There is a domino effect when it comes to the removal of State services from villages and rural towns.

“Postmasters and mistresses who opt to take the redundancy package are absolutely entitled to do so. They have given years of fantastic service to their local communities,” he said.

A Government senator has also called on Communications Minister Denis Naughton to intervene. Senator Michelle Mulherin raised the issue of the village of Ballindine, in Co Mayo, where the postmistress is retiring.

“I am concerned that the people of Ballindine are being unfairly treated by An Post in its decision to close the post office effective from August 10,” she said.

She said An Post had not given local people an opportunity to come up with alternatives.

“I do not believe this is the way for An Post to do its business.”

In April, An Post announced plans to modernise the post office network following a breakthrough deal with postmasters.

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Increasing rental income sees profits at Ireland’s biggest private landlord more than double

Profits at Ireland’s biggest private landlord, I-RES Reit, more than doubled to €69.5m in the six months to 30 June.

The performance was driven by a 13pc increase in net rental income to €19.3m, according to six month interim results from the group.

I-RES Reit also reported an increase in its EPRA earnings for the period of 9.8pc to €13m.

EPRA earnings measure the underlying operating performance of an investment property company.

The group’s earnings per share increased to 16.5 cents during the six month period, from 7.4 cents in the same period last year.

As a result, the company has announced plans to declare an interim dividend of 2.6 cents per share for the period.

“I-RES has delivered another strong set of results for the six months period to 30 June, achieving excellent operating metrics, underpinned by active property management and asset management, as well as further portfolio valuation uplift,” Margaret Sweeney, CEO of I-RES, said.
We continue to invest in the supply of apartments and houses for rent through a combination of acquisitions and build to let.”

“Rental demand remains strong and the supply of residential accommodation remains constrained resulting in a combination of attractive yields and rental growth.”

Looking forward, Ms Sweeney said that the prospects for growth in the Irish market remain good, and that the structural drivers of demand for private rental residential accommodation (population growth, strong inward investment and economic growth and urbanisation) are likely to underpin demand for “some time to come.”

“This coupled with our modern well located existing asset portfolio and our current development opportunities, offer significant opportunities for future growth,”’ Ms Sweeney said.

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