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Second-hand property prices continue to drop in Dublin – survey

Second-hand property prices continue to drop in Dublin – survey

Second-hand property prices in Dublin have decreased by an average of €4,500 in the past three months, a survey has found.

The Real Estate Alliance survey found the average house price for a three-bed semi-detached house in Dublin stands at €433,000, for the second quarter of 2019.

This is a second consecutive quarter fall (-1%) since the end of March, and 2.2% decrease compared to June 2018.

The average semi-detached house nationally now costs €236,028, a rise of 0.05% on the Q1 2019 figure of €235,898.

Overall, according to the survey, the average house price across the country rose by 1.54% over the past year – a decrease on the 2.96% recorded to March – and an indication that the market is continuing to steady after an 8% overall annual rise to June 2018.

The report said increased availability of new homes has had a suppressing effect on prices in some commuter areas such as Kildare, north Wicklow and Meath.

Prices in the country’s major cities outside Dublin were “relatively static” with no change in Limerick and Galway due to “an increase in supply and new home developments”.

Cork city showed a slight rise of 0.8% to €320,000 while Waterford city had a quarterly increase of 2.4%, with tightening supply rising prices to €215,000, up €5,000 from the end of March.

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Global demand for agri-products set to increase by 70%

Global demand for agri-products set to increase by 70%

A senior lecturer in retail management has said food sustainability is becoming more prominent and by 2050 global demand for agricultural product is set to increase by 70%.

The global focus on climate means many people are thinking about where food comes from and how much is thrown away each week.

Damian O’Reilly who lectures in Technological University said: “Retailers all have sustainability on their agenda, but getting it into practice is the problem”.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, he said the large supermarkets work with huge supply chains – sometimes they can be very short chains because they are dealing with fresh produce, which goes off quickly – so daily decisions are made and they are not taking sustainability into account.

Aside from retailers, some restaurateurs are taking food sustainability into account when catering for the public. Food Space Ireland operates a number of workplace canteens around the country.They have recently opened their first public-facing restaurant, Ink in Dún Laoghaire.

Culinary Director Conor Spacey said their zero waste ethos, which includes pickling vegetable peelings, brining and brewing their own drinks can be transferred to our own homes.

He describes how he used left over strawberries from the kitchen to make Kombucha.

“There’s a bit of a craze about Kombucha right now. It’s a fermented tea that’s flavoured to make a fizzy drink which is said to have health benefits because of the probiotics that emerge in the fermentation process.”
That process uses a Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast (Scoby). More than one Scoby and you have a ‘Scoby hotel’

Conor says there is a reason we do not use the methods previous generations did to preserve food, such as pickling and fermenting.

It is, he says, because we have lost the connection to food. He describes how people do not put value on food, citing the example of throwing produce out of the fridge because it might be gone off to make room for the new groceries.

Despite there being lots of Irish produce available to buy in supermarkets this time of year, fruit and vegetables from other countries are still on the shelves of our supermarkets.

Damian O’Reillly explained how it currently makes sense for big supermarkets to buy from some countries such as onions from Egypt, which can produce huge amount of the vegetable so the volume for one order is more economical for them.

However, he does point out the good economics in buying local, which he describes as the “local multiplier effect”.

“If you were to spend €100 on something online from the UK, and had it shipped here, that money stays in the UK. If you spend it on local produce, that €100 stays local because the people who produce buy local ingredients, they pay local people, and that money then gets spent in the shops, pubs, businesses and so on”.

He said the local multiplier effect is incredibly strong because it means the local €100 spent is actually worth €500 in the local economy.

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Revenue owed €40m in tax, fines and interest by defaulters

Revenue owed €40m in tax, fines and interest by defaulters

More than €39.82m remains unpaid to the Revenue Commissioners in taxes, penalties and interest from published tax defaulters in 2017 and 2018.

That is according to figures provided by Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe which show €15.5m remains unpaid by published tax defaulters in tax, penalties and interest from last year.

In a written Dáil reply to Labour’s Joan Burton, Mr Donohoe confirmed that a further €24.2m remains unpaid in taxes, penalties and interest from the 2017 lists of published tax defaulters.

The figures show that of the 265 tax settlements agreed last year with defaulters, the numbers that remain unpaid amount to 79 or 30pc of settlements.

This compares to 289 settlements agreed for 2017 where 101 settlements remain unpaid or 35pc of the overall total.

Ms Burton said: “I’m very shocked at the level of non-payment of tax settlements.” She said: “It is very unfair on the hard-pressed taxpayer that some of these tax defaulters can seemingly walk away from their obligations.”

A spokeswoman for Revenue said while Revenue vigorously pursues collection/enforcement of unpaid settlements “in some cases, the collection/recovery of the full amount unpaid will not be possible”.

“In some instances for example, a company may have gone into liquidation, while a number of the unpaid settlements in the Tax Defaulters List are as a result of the taxpayer claiming ‘inability to pay’,” she said.

Documentary evidence of inability to pay must be submitted to Revenue, with each case then considered on its own merit, as to whether an ability to pay exists or not.

Revenue currently has 500 people employed in all aspects of debt management.

The spokeswoman said: “In 2018, we collected €211.6m as part of our debt collections and enforcement actions. We can, and do, work very successfully with businesses and individuals who engage early with us to resolve their payment difficulties.”

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Global stocks hold highs in rate-cut bet

Global stocks hold highs in rate-cut bet

World stocks held near two-week highs as investors bet on a worldwide wave of central bank stimulus, with expectations growing that the US and the eurozone may deliver interest rate cuts as early as July.

Markets have been fired up by European Central Bank president Mario Draghi’s Tuesday volte-face on policy easing. In one of the biggest policy reversals of his eight-year tenure, Draghi flagged more easing if inflation failed to pick up.

But some caution seeped in after the previous day’s frenzy.

German and US bond yields, which hit record lows and two-year lows respectively after Draghi’s comments, inched around three basis points higher on the day.

European shares slipped off six-week highs and Wall Street futures indicated a slightly weaker opening on Wednesday.

Some of the trepidation is down to expectations that US Federal Reserve would follow the lead of the European Central Bank and open the door to future rate cuts.

“We see now that central banks will try assertively to generate inflation so this would reinforce our positivity on risk assets overall,” said Justin Onuekwusi, portfolio manager at Legal & General Investment Management.

Market sentiment has been buoyed also by news that Trump will meet Chinese leader Xi Jinping at the G20 summit this month, even though many doubt the two men can reach a breakthrough on ending their trade dispute.

MSCI’s global equity index rose 0.4pc, adding to Tuesday’s 1pc gain, as Asian shares excluding Japan followed the lead of their European and US counterparts to jump almost 2pc – their biggest one-day rally since January.

Tokyo and Shanghai also climbed almost 2pc while Australia’s main bourse hit an 11-year high. New York’s S&P500 jumped almost 1pc on Tuesday to approach recent record highs.

All eyes are now on the Fed, with chairman Jerome Powell holding a news conference after the announcement.

As for Europe, markets have almost fully priced a cut in September, though some analysts, such as those at Germany’s Commerzbank, now say rates will be cut as early as July.

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Wage rises slow down below rest of the EU

Wage rises slow down below rest of the EU

The pace of wage growth in Ireland slowed dramatically to 2.2pc between January and March, under-performing the eurozone average for the first time since early 2017.

Meanwhile, the level of job vacancies here was the third lowest in the currency bloc, indicating the economy may not be overheating.

The data released by European Statistics agency Eurostat showed wage gains here have fallen off dramatically since the final quarter of last year when they came in at 3.2pc. This was seen as a sign the economy was getting close to full employment.

In the first quarter of this year, wages in the eurozone as a whole rose by 2.5pc, a 10-year high.

“The country breakdown shows much of the increase in wage inflation was in the economies which have been struggling for the past year or so,” consultancy Capital Economics said.

Momentum

“In practice, we think labour cost growth is more likely to be stable in the coming quarters, given the loss of momentum in the economy and the evidence from business surveys that the labour market is no longer tightening.”

A separate release from Eurostat showed job vacancy rates here stood at 1pc, well below the 3pc average in the euro area, another measure suggesting demand for labour looks to be slowing.

The economy here is expected to grow by around 4pc this year, unless there is a hard Brexit, down from 6.7pc in 2018.

Over the course of 2018, some 63,000 jobs were created on a net basis and the Department of Finance is expecting 50,000 new jobs will be created this year.

There are still skills shortages in healthcare, finance and engineering, according to a new study by the Central Bank of Ireland and jobs website Indeed.ie.

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Tax rises needed to prevent economy overheating – ESRI

Tax rises needed to prevent economy overheating – ESRI

The Economic and Social Research Institute says the economy is now growing so strongly that the Government should increase taxes to avoid overheating, notably through increasing taxes on carbon and property.

But it also says the Government should avoid tax increases if there is a no-deal Brexit.

In its latest quarterly bulletin, the ESRI says the economy should grow by 4% of GDP this year and 3.2% next year.

It expects unemployment to average 4.5% this year, falling to 4.1% next year.
Private consumer spending is expected to grow by 2.5% and 2.3% respectively, but Government current spending will grow by 7% this year and 5.3% next year.

Investment is forecast to grow by 7.1% this year and 7.6% in 2020, while inflation is expected to be 1.4% and 1.7% in those years.

The Irish economy is growing strongly and is probably performing at full capacity.

Unemployment is down to 4.5%, wages are growing at about 4%, and the Government is spending more, especially on a very large investment programme.

Such is the pace of spending and output growth, the ESRI says the Government ought to take some of the heat out of the economy by raising taxes, particularly carbon tax and property tax, leaving taxes on labour alone so as not to harm employment.

The authors write: “Given the expected increase in capital expenditure over the short to medium term, it may be advisable to run an explicitly counter-cyclical fiscal policy and instigate a mildly contractionary budget.

“Taxation increases in the area of carbon taxes or residential property taxes could be used to reduce some of the demand – side pressures which are now evident in the domestic economy.”

It also warns that the planned increases in the Government’s capital programme for building infrastructure needs more careful management.

It said avoiding cost escalations such as the National Children’s Hospital, requires “improvements in the process of overseeing such projects are required” to ensure the initial estimates of the project costs are much closer to the final costs.

But these projections assume Britain stays in the EU. In the event of a no-deal Brexit, the economic shock will cut the growth rate by about two thirds.

Indeed, the ESRI says the prospect of Brexit is already having an impact on the economy by depressing consumer confidence and spending.

It says the usual determinants of consumer sentiment, notably unemployment and inflation, are both extremely low, and cannot account for the sharp deterioration in consumer sentiment observed over the past eight or nine months.

Given the past data on the link between sentiment and spending behaviour, the ESRI believes the economy has already been adversely affected by the amount of attention on Brexit and the uncertainty surrounding it.

If there is a no-deal Brexit, it says contractionary budget policy would have to be abandoned in favour of measures to support the economy.

All of which makes framing October’s Budget extremely difficult.

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Oil jumps 3% towards $64 as US drone downed in Gulf

Oil jumps 3% towards $64 as US drone downed in Gulf

Oil rose more than 3% towards $64 a barrel today after Iran shot down a US military drone, raising fears of a military confrontation between Tehran and Washington.

Expectations that the US Federal Reserve could cut interest rates at its next meeting, stimulating growth in the world’s largest oil-consuming country, and a drop in US crude inventories also supported prices.

Brent crude, the global benchmark, was up $2.06 at $63.88 a barrel this afternoon, having earlier gained 3.4% to $63.93.

US West Texas Intermediate crude rose $2.33 to $56.09.

The drone was downed in international airspace over the Strait of Hormuz by an Iranian surface-to-air missile, a US official said.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guards said the drone was flying over southern Iran.

Tension has been rising in the Middle East, home to over 20% of the world’s oil output, after attacks on two tankers near the Strait of Hormuz, a chokepoint for oil supplies.

Washington blamed Tehran for the tanker attacks. Iran denied any role.

Concern about slowing economic growth and a US-China trade dispute has pulled oil lower in recent weeks. Brent reached a 2019 high of $75 in April.

Also propelling oil higher today was a decline in US crude inventories and the prospect of prolonged supply restraint by producer group OPEC and its allies.

US crude stocks fell by 3.1 million barrels last week, more than analysts expected, the Energy Information Administration said yesterday.

Meanwhile, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and allies including Russia agreed this week to meet on July 1-2, ending a month of wrangling about the timing.

The coalition known as OPEC+ looks set to extend a deal on cutting 1.2 million barrels per day of production. The deal expires at the end of June.

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14.1% of Irish households have income above €100,000 – CSO

14.1% of Irish households have income above €100,000 – CSO

New figures from the Central Statistics Office show that median gross income for households stood at €45,256 in 2016.

The incomes ranged from a low of €32,259 in Donegal and €34,800 in Leitrim to a high of €66,203 in Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown and €58,795 in Fingal.

Meanwhile, households in Malahide had the highest median income of €78,631 of all 41 towns in Ireland with a population of 10,000 or over.

Celbridge had the second highest at €64,877 while Maynooth was third at €64,529.

The towns with the lowest medians were Longford at €29,224, Enniscorthy at €31,049 and Ballina with €32,779.

The CSO said its figures show that 62.6% of Irish households had a gross income of less than €60,000 in 2016, while only 14.1% had an income above €100,000.

The CSO noted that in 26.6% of households, social welfare payments made up more than half of the income.

Social welfare payments to people of working age made up more than half of the income in 13.7% of households while the state pension formed the majority of income in 12.9% of households.

Today’s CSO report also found that household incomes are impacted by factors such as gender, general health, education and the place and type of work undertaken.

Included in the findings from the CSO’s Geographical Profiles of Income in Ireland figures is the fact that the highest median earned income in 2016 was for the ICT, Scientific & Recreation sectors at €37,037.

The CSO also noted that about four euro in every ten earned by residents of Sligo, Leitrim and Donegal came from the Public Service, Education and Health sector.

It also found that households who were owner occupiers with a mortgage had the highest median income at €68,149 in 2016.

Households renting from a local authority had the lowest median income at €25,202, compared to households renting from a private landlord, who had a median income of €41,695.

And owner occupiers, where the house is owned outright, had a median income of €37,733. Most pensioners fall into this category, the CSO said.

Meanwhile, average rents made up more than 33% of household disposable income for tenants in South Dublin, the highest proportion in the country.

The lowest was 21.1% in Longford and compares to the state average of 29.

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Household deposits see biggest quarterly increase since 2008

Household deposits see biggest quarterly increase since 2008

Household deposits grew by €1.8 billion, or 1.8%, over the first quarter of 2019, new figures from the Central Bank show today.

The Central Bank said this marked the largest quarterly increase in household deposits since the fourth quarter of 2008 and comes despite the low interest rates people on getting on their savings.

In annual terms, household deposits continued to grow, increasing by €4.5 billion (4.7%) and marking the 18th consecutive quarter of annual growth.

The Central Bank noted that net new lending for house purchases was €1.1 billion in the year to the end of March – the largest annual increase since late 2009.

Meanwhile, other personal lending increased in net terms by €135m over the quarter.

According to the Central Bank, new lending exceeded drawdowns by €619m in the 12 months to the end of the first quarter of this year.

This was the largest annual increase in personal lending since third quarter of 2017, it added.

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Broadcasting regulator retains cap on radio ownership

Broadcasting regulator retains cap on radio ownership

A cap on the ownership of commercial radio stations has been maintained by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland, despite calls from some stakeholders for its removal.

The BAI today published its revised policy on the ownership and control of Ireland’s broadcasters.

This sets out the criteria considered as part of a new licence application, or the proposed transfer of a service to different owners.

Included in that is a bar on an individual or group owning more than 25% of the country’s commercial radio services, something that has been retained in the 2019 update.

Some submissions received as part of the consultation process – from companies including Communicorp and The Wireless Group – called for the rule to be relaxed or removed entirely.

They argued that ownership should be considered in the context of all types of media, as opposed to solely radio, and said the growth of digital platforms made the existing cap less relevant than before.

In a statement the BAI said it had given “careful consideration” to those calls, however it remained of the view that the upper limit was “appropriate”.

The updated policy also sets out new criteria to consider when judging the character of those seeking ownership of a broadcast licence.

This includes looking at whether an individual has had adverse findings made against them in relation to tax, gross professional misconduct or anti-competitive conduct.

The BAI will also now consider whether there is “sufficient and demonstrable commitment to achieving and sustaining impartial, credible and independent journalism” as part of a broadcaster’s proposed news and current affairs programming.

Alongside its revised document on ownership the BAI also published its new Media Plurality Policy, which clarifies the measures taken by the association to promote a greater diversity of content and ownership amongst broadcasters.

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