Ireland taps bond market for €1.25bn as European shares slip from three-month highs

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Ireland raised €1.25bn of bonds on the markets yesterday, split between €950m due in 2029 and €300m due in 2037.

The effective interest rate paid will be just 0.846pc for the former and 1.414pc for the latter. Both the issues were oversubscribed.

The National Treasury Management Agency has now raised €5.25bn of the planned €14bn to €18bn of long-term debt it intends to raise this year. Ryan McGrath, head of fixed income strategy and sales at Cantor Fitzgerald Ireland, said the deal showed international investors were focused on Ireland's growth potential, rather than threats like Brexit. Meanwhile, European shares gave up three-month highs after a surprise sharp decline in US retail sales pulled stocks lower in afternoon trading, spoiling an initially upbeat session that saw blue-chips such as Nestle shine on strong earnings.

The pan-European STOXX 600 closed down 0.2pc after spending the first half of the day in positive territory.

Wall Street opened in the red, albeit moderately, after data showing the largest drop in retail sales since September 2009, when the economy was emerging from a recession.

Ireland's Iseq Overall Index shed 0.76pc to 5,949.

Shares in software firm Datalex declined 7.6pc to 73 cent as it said it would lay off staff and target $10m of savings a year.

CRH fell 1.7pc to €26.75, while Paddy Power Betfair was 2.8pc lower as it faces demands for a total of £49m in tax from authorities in Germany and Greece.

Euronext reaps €24m dividend from ISE purchase

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Euronext's acquisition of the Irish Stock Exchange (ISE) paid off last year for the Paris-based company.

Euronext saw its new Dublin operations generate €24.6m in revenue for nine months of consolidation as revenues overall grew 15.5pc in 2018 to €615m.

Headcount in Dublin has fallen 15pc since the takeover that saw the 226-year-old Dublin institution sold by its five owners, Davy, Goodbody Stockbrokers, Investec, Cantor Fitzgerald and Campbell O'Connor.

Euronext said it was working to boost the number of companies listed in Dublin, many of which have dual listings in London as well.

"On the equity front in Dublin, we are rolling out our various pre-IPO programmes that have been successful at Euronext," said Anthony Attia, head of listing at the company.

"We also have some opportunity with local small and medium-sized enterprises, in particular the tech sector," he said, adding that Brexit could also create a driver for companies that were listed in London to list here.

Overall, Euronext saw its full year earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) grow 19pc to €354.3m with an EBITDA margin of 57.6pc.

Euronext's full year adjusted earnings per share rose 11.2pc to €3.44.

However, the company's strong operating performance was hit by €21.5m of exceptional items and by €5.3m of net financing expenses.

Its major current focus is its bid for Oslo Bors, Norway's stock exchange.

Euronext this week raised its offer for the exchange and said it had the support of the majority of shareholders although the board of Oslo Bors has not endorsed the bid.

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It raised its bid to 6.79bn Norwegian crowns (€695m) and is awaiting approval from the country's regulator which its expects in June.

For 2019, Euronext expects low-single digit growth of its Group operating expenses compared to 2018.

However, chief executive Stephane Boujnah said that it would maintain "strong cost discipline".

Asian Shares Tumble After Weak US, China Data


Asian stocks succumbed to selling pressure on Friday as weak data from the U.S. and China rekindled investor worries about a slowdown in the global economy.

U.S. President Donald Trump's insistence that border security justifies a state of emergency and skepticism over the latest round of U.S.-China trade talks also kept investors nervous.

China's Shanghai Composite index fell 37.31 points or 1.37 percent to 2,682.38 as weak inflation raised deflation concerns. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index dropped 1.87 percent to 27,900.84.

Consumer prices in China were up 1.7 percent year on year in January, the National Bureau of Statistics said. That was shy of expectations for an increase of 1.9 percent, which would have been unchanged from the December reading.

Factory inflation slowed for the seventh straight month on cooling demand. Producer prices were up 0.1 percent on year, shy of expectations for an increase of 0.5 percent and down from 0.9 percent in the previous month.

Japanese shares fell sharply as a firm yen pulled down exporters and falling U.S. yields on the back of weak U.S. data weighed on the financial sector.

The benchmark Nikkei lost 239.08 points or 1.13 percent to 20,900.63, while the broader Topix index closed 0.79 percent lower at 1,577.29.

Automakers Honda Motor and Mazda Motor fell around 2 percent while Japan Display declined 2.7 percent after the company said it expects to post its fifth straight year of losses.

In the financial sector, T&D Holdings and Dai-ichi Life Holdings plummeted 4-5 percent.

Australian markets edged up slightly, with energy stocks leading the surge. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index inched up 6.70 points or 0.11 percent to 6,066.10 while the broader All Ordinaries index ended up 9 points or 0.15 percent at 6,148.60.

Energy stocks Woodside Petroleum, Santos, Origin Energy, Oil Search and Beach Energy climbed 1-2 percent as Brent crude futures hit fresh 2019 highs.

Lynas Corp soared 11.9 percent after the minerals miner provided an update to the exchange on its NUF residue produced at the Lynas Malaysia plan.

Scandal-hit wealth manager AMP lost 3.1 percent after issuing a weak outlook. Whitehaven Coal slumped 6.7 percent after cutting its full-year production guidance.

Property classifieds business Domain Holdings Australia jumped 21 percent after posting strong first-half revenue.

Medibank Private rallied 2.9 percent after the health insurer said it would consider acquiring a private health insurance business in a stressed operating environment.

Automotive Holdings Group plunged 8.2 percent after the company said it would record a combined impairment of A$226 million against its struggling franchised and refrigerated logistics businesses in its first-half year results.

Seoul stocks tumbled as weak U.S. retail sales data and tepid inflation figures from China rekindled global growth worries.

On the domestic front, South Korea posted a current account surplus of $4.82 billion in December, the Bank of Korea said - down from $5.22 billion in November.

The benchmark Kospi dropped 29.76 points or 1.34 percent to 2,196.09, marking the steepest single-day loss since Jan. 2. Tech heavyweight Samsung Electronics fell over 3 percent and chipmaker SK Hynix tumbled 4.7 percent.

New Zealand shares fell, with the benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index ending down 39.27 points or 0.42 percent at 9,245.65 after a survey showed the country's manufacturing sector expanded at a slower pace in January.

U.S. stocks ended mostly lower overnight after the release of weak retail sales and producer price inflation data.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 0.4 percent and the S&P 500 slid 0.3 percent while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite edged up 0.1 percent.

RBS FY18 Profit Rises


Royal Bank of Scotland Group plc (RBS, RBS.L) reported operating profit before tax of 3.36 billion pounds for the period ended 31 December 2018 compared to 2.24 billion pounds, previous year. Earnings per ordinary share was 13.4 pence compared to 6.3 pence.

Fiscal year net interest income was 8.66 billion pounds compared to 8.99 billion pounds, previous year. Non-interest income increased to 4.75 billion pounds from 4.15 billion pounds.

The Group proposed a full year ordinary dividend of 3.5 pence per share, and a special dividend of 7.5 pence per share.

Dutch Retail Sales Growth Slows In December


The Netherlands' retail sales growth moderated in December after accelerating sharply in the previous month, figures from the Central Bureau of Statistics showed on Thursday.

Retail sales climbed 2.3 percent year-over-year in December, slower than the 4.1 percent gain in November. The increase was the smallest in three months.

During the whole year 2018, the retail trade turnover grew 3.3 percent, which was the second highest growth after 2006. Sales of food stores and non-food stores grew by 3.2 percent and 1.7 percent, respectively.

In 2018, the online turnover went up by 17.8 percent higher than in 2017.

European Shares Set For Tepid Start

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European stocks may drift lower on Friday to extend declines from the previous session as investors await the outcome of a meeting later today between the Trump administration's top two negotiators and Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing.

Underlying sentiment may remain cautious after U.S. President Trump said he would declare a national emergency to try to obtain funds for building his long-promised wall along the border.

Asian markets slipped into red on growth concerns after a report on U.S. retail sales showed the worst monthly decline since September.

Gold traded in a tight range while the dollar weakened as weak retail sales and producer price inflation data reinforced expectations that the Fed will avoid rising rates this year.

Oil extended recent gains, with Brent crude futures hitting fresh 2019 highs amid supply cuts led by OPEC and U.S. sanctions against Venezuela.

The British pound hovered near one-month low after Prime Minister Theresa May lost a symbolic Brexit vote in parliament.

U.S. stocks ended mostly lower overnight, led by declines in consumer and bank shares.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 0.4 percent and the S&P 500 slid 0.3 percent while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite edged up 0.1 percent.

European markets fell on Thursday as investors monitored fresh developments on the U.S.-China trade talks and Brexit. The pan European Stoxx 600 declined 0.3 percent.

The German DAX shed 0.7 percent and France's CAC 40 index eased 0.2 percent while the U.K.'s FTSE 100 inched up 0.1 percent.

Tech Stuff you need to know today


This is the tech news you need to know this Friday.

  1. Amazon cancelled its plans to move its new HQ2 headquarters to New York. The company said it would not reopen its search for HQ2 but would proceed as planned in Virginia and Nashville, Tennessee.

  2. Politicians and tech execs reacted to the surprise news of Amazon pulling HQ2 from New York City. The decision to bring HQ2 to New York was met with fierce backlash from many politicians, local residents, and tech leaders who took aim at HQ2's effect on housing prices, the major tax breaks New York was giving Amazon, and the company's treatment of workers.

  3. Bernie Sanders congratulated New York for "standing up" to Amazon. Sanders, who was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, has been a consistent and vocal critic of Amazon's treatment of its workers.

  4. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and New York activists also celebrated Amazon's decision to cancel HQ2 in Long Island City. Ocasio-Cortez called the retreat a win for "everyday New Yorkers" in the fight against "corporate greed... worker exploitation, and the power of the richest man in the world," referring to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.

  5. Facebook is reportedly considering paying a record multi-billion dollar fine to settle the FTC's investigation into its privacy practices. The FTC has been investigating whether the leak of data on Facebook users to Cambridge Analytica violated a previous agreement between the agency and the social-network.

  6. Former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick is quietly building a new kind of food-delivery service. CloudKitchens, one of the units of Kalanick's company City Storage Systems, has hired dozens of people including former Uber employees.

  7. Anti-vaccination ads on Facebook are targeting pregnant women, while a measles outbreak spreads across the country. The Daily Beast reports there are more than 150 ad spots on Facebook that target women over the age of 25, those the most likely to have children at an age when vaccination decisions are made.

  8. Nintendo detailed their heavy-hitting lineup of Switch games coming in 2019. The company showed off more than two-dozen upcoming Switch games during a 36-minute "Nintendo Direct" presentation.

  9. The new $1.37 billion border-security deal might save SpaceX's launch site in Texas, where Elon Musk hopes to launch Mars rockets. Department of Homeland Security maps reportedly showed a proposed physical barrier running directly through SpaceX's site.

  10. Google invested in a startup with tech that uses the voices of NFL players to answer questions on Google Home devices.The sports technology startup StatMuse received a strategic investment from the Google Assistant Investment program to help further its vision.

House price growth in UK at slowest annual rate in more than five years

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House prices in the UK increased at their slowest annual rate in more than five years in December, according to official figures.

Property values increased by 2.5pc in the year to December - the lowest annual rate since July 2013 when there was 2.3pc growth.

The figures were released jointly by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the Land Registry and other bodies.

There were variations across nations and regions, with price growth topping 5pc in Northern Ireland, Wales and the West Midlands, while the North East of England and London saw values slide lower.

The average UK house price was £231,000 in December.

Over the past two years, there has been a general cooling in price growth, driven mainly by a slowdown in the south and east of England, the report said.

Prices increased by 5.5pc in Northern Ireland, 5.2pc in Wales, 2.4pc in Scotland and 2.3pc in England.

The report said price growth in Wales was driven by strong increases in the south east of the country, which was "likely linked" to the abolition of the Severn crossing tolls.

In England, the West Midlands showed the highest growth, with prices increasing by 5.2pc, followed by the East Midlands and Yorkshire and the Humber, with 4.2pc.

The English region with the slowest growth was the North East, where prices fell by 1pc, followed by London, where prices fell by 0.6pc, unchanged from November.

London prices have fallen over the year each month since July.

The house price index pointed to a Bank of England report highlighting that the slowdown in the London market since mid-2016 is probably due to the area being disproportionately affected by regulatory and tax changes, and lower net migration from the EU.

While London prices are falling annually, the area remains the most expensive part of the UK to purchase a property, setting buyers back an average of £474,000.

Frances Clacy, residential research analyst at Savills, said: "The figures are in line with our mainstream house price growth forecasts for the five years to 2023 which represent a small closing of the gap between London, the South East and other regions ...

"We are forecasting that the Midlands, North, Scotland and Wales will all outperform the UK average over the next five years as these regions have fewer constraints on mortgage affordability and have more capacity for further house price growth."

Howard Archer, chief economic adviser at EY ITEM Club, said the latest figures "maintain our view that the housing market is currently under significant pressure with heightened uncertainties focused on Brexit seemingly having some impact".

Jeremy Leaf, a north London estate agent and a former residential chairman of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (Rics), said that on the high street, "we have seen the release of some pent-up activity and even investors and developers taking a more optimistic view than they have done for some time".

"The market continues to be underpinned by a shortage of available property and very low interest rates.

"However, in order to successfully transact, realistic sellers need to make their properties compelling in terms of price, presentation or both, in order to engage with fewer but more pragmatic purchasers."

Mark Harris, chief executive of mortgage broker SPF Private Clients, said: "December's figures confirm a slowdown in house price growth which is not really surprising given the time of year and ongoing Brexit shenanigans.

"The national average figure masks significant regional differences with prices falling in the North East and London, whereas Northern Ireland and Wales experienced relatively strong house price growth."