News Archives - Page 7 of 574 - Pat Carroll PCCO - Chartered Accountants & Tax Advisors

EU new car sales drop by 5.2% in March, says ACEA

New car sales in the European Union fell by 5.2% year-on-year in March, marking the first decline this year and the biggest since July 2022, Europe’s auto industry body said today, citing the impact of early Easter holidays and a market downturn.

Top European carmakers Volkswagen and Stellantis have said the market will be tough in 2024, as a result of weak global demand for electric vehicles (EVs), increasing Chinese competition, sustained cost pressures and geopolitical tensions.

Car registrations fell in March by a yearly 6.2% in Germany, 4.7% in Spain, 3.7% in Italy and 1.5% in France, data by the European Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACEA) showed.

Sales of battery electric cars dropped by 11.3% from the previous year, reflecting a broader market downturn, ACEA said, while hybrid-electric vehicle registrations were up by 12.6%, mainly because of strong sales in France and Italy.

EVs sales growth has slowed, and investment in capacity and technology development has outrun demand as many prospective buyers are deterred by cost and continuing doubts about infrastructure.

The sale of hybrid electric cars, seen as a compromise between all-combustion and all-electric, has increased in the European Union in recent months, achieving market share of 29% in March, up from 24.4% a year ago.

Electrified vehicles – either fully electric models, plug-in hybrids or full hybrids – sold in the EU accounted for 49.1% of all new passenger car registrations in March, up from 45.5% in the previous year.

Car registrations at Europe’s three largest carmakers Volkswagen, Stellantis and Renault all dropped in March, by 9%, 12.6% and 2.1% respectively.

Toyota’s sales in the EU rose by 18.4% in the same month, while electric car company Tesla recorded a drop of 30.4% from last year.

The number of new vehicles registered in March in the EU, Britain and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) fell by 2.8% to 1,383,410 vehicles, despite a 10.4% increase in Britain, the ACEA data showed.

Article Source – EU new car sales drop by 5.2% in March, says ACEA – RTE

Copyright and Related Rights Act, 2000

Both exports and imports fall in February – CSO

Ireland’s exports and imports fell in February, according to the latest figures from the Central Statistics Office.

Goods exports in the month were worth €15.9 billion on an unadjusted basis, down more than €700m from the same time last year.

Imports amounted to €10 billion, down more than €1.1 billion.

Today’s CSO figures show that the European Union remained the biggest market for Irish exports, though their value was down 4% year on year.

Exports to Britain were also down 5% in the month, but the sharpest drop was in the “rest of the world” category – which would include Asia and Africa.

Exports there were down nearly €500m, or 14%, year on year, the CSO said.

Today’s figures show that exports of Medical & Pharmaceutical Products increased by 15% to €6.451 billion in February from the same time last year – representing 40% of total exports.

Meanwhile, exports of Organic Chemicals fell by 38% to €2.269 billion and exports of Professional, Scientific & Controlling Apparatus grew by 7% to €830m.

They also reveal that imports of Organic Chemicals were down 27% to €1.135 billion, while imports of Other Transport Equipment – including aircraft – sank by 56% to €612m.

Imports of Mineral Fuels, Lubricants & Related Products decreased by 20% to €757m and imports of Office Machines & Automatic Data Processing Machines rose by 29% to €453m.

Commenting on today’s figures Carol Lynch, Partner in the BDO Customs and International Trade Services department said when the fall in the value of pharmaceuticals is stripped out, it points to quite a strong export performance by the Irish economy.

“Interestingly, the value of exports for the first two months of 2024 was 8% higher relative to the same period in 2023,” she said.

“Of particular interest with the implementation of the first tranche of UK border checks upon Irish food exports to Great Britain, the value of exports of Irish Agri-Food produce has remained relatively stable demonstrating that the Irish Agri-food sector has coped remarkably well with the increased trade friction.

“This is testament to the effort the sector has made in preparing for these checks,” she added.

Article Source – Both exports and imports fall in February – CSO – RTE

Copyright and Related Rights Act, 2000

Govt agrees to delay date of Patent referendum

The Government has agreed to defer the date for the referendum on the EU’s Unified Patent Court, Minister for Enterprise Peter Burke has confirmed.

It was expected that the referendum would take place on 7 June, the same date as the local and European elections.

“While the Government continues to believe that joining the UPC is essential and that the referendum should be pursued, it is clear to me that more time is needed for public discourse and engagement on the matter to help inform the debate,” Mr Burke said in a statement

“The June elections will give rise to diverse issues and campaigns involving local and European candidates, which may crowd out a debate on the Patent Court.

“Feedback suggests that many people are unfamiliar with the Patent Court and there is not a significant level of awareness among the electorate ahead of the proposed referendum,” he added.

On the way into the Cabinet meeting this morning, Mr Burke said the Family and Care referendums, which were held last month, took 12 to 15 weeks to provide information to the public and that realistically a delay to the Patent referendum may be needed.

The Labour Party has criticised Mr Burke for bringing the memo to Cabinet, with Finance spokesperson Ged Nash saying the Unified Patent Agreement would be good for business.

He said it was a straightforward question to put to the people.

The referendum is required in order to give effect to a decision by Ireland to opt-in to the Unified Patent Court Agreement, which would harmonise patent rules across the European Union.

Seventeen countries across the EU have opted in to the agreement.

A constitutional referendum is needed to enable the transfer of jurisdictional powers from the Irish courts to the new international court.

Fianna Fáil’s Director for the Referendum, Senator Malcolm Byrne, said the agreement will “make life easier for Irish inventors and content creators and for small businesses who want to protect their ideas and products”.

He said Minister Burke should insist on proceeding with the referendum to “fight for small business and inventors”.

Business representative organisation, Ibec, said the decision to postpone the referendum was regrettable.

“Ibec has been supportive of joining the UPC since the beginning, given its benefits for lowering the cost for businesses when growing across Europe,” a spokesperson said.

“The decision by Cabinet today is regrettable. Ibec has estimated the value add to the Irish economy could be worth as much as €1.6 billion per annum while also attracting and creating high value jobs.”

“We will continue to work with the Government to hold the referendum at the earliest opportunity and to put forward the strongest business case for Ireland joining the UPC.”

Article Source – Govt agrees to delay date of Patent referendum – RTE

Copyright and Related Rights Act, 2000

Makhlouf expects that ‘all things equal’ the ECB will cut interest rates in June

The Governor of the Central Bank has said he expects that “all things equal” the European Central Bank will cut interest rates in June.

However, Gabriel Makhlouf said he remains open-minded about the path which interest rates might take after that.

“I think we’re pretty close to it now,” the Governor told CNBC in an interview in Washington DC, where is currently for the IMF Spring Meeting.

“Before Christmas, I mean, my view was that we had, I mean, I wasn’t ready to rule out going further in the hiking cycle. But I think we’ve now over the last few weeks, seen enough data to say that we’ve reached the top of the ladder.”

“And at our last meeting, from my perspective, we’ve got greater confidence that we can start to reduce the tightening in our monetary policy stance. I would expect all things equal, that we will see a change in June, unless there’s something completely surprising and a shock that we don’t expect.”

But the Governor said he was clear that he needs to remain open-minded about the rate path after that, with the ECB taking a meeting-by-meeting data dependent approach up to now.

“I think that tells you to be cautious and certainly I will rule out trying to predict how many more moves there may be, there may be none, there may be more than one,” he said.

“But I think meeting by meeting is the way to do it. There’s too much uncertainty. And certainly in the inflation numbers today, we were still seeing enough in services inflation, to make us cautious about predictions, so I would not predict how many cuts there may be at all.”

Mr Makhlouf added that price stability would remain the ECB’s main focus.

The Governor also told CNBC that while the Irish economy is doing well and is healthy, with indicators moving in the right direction, it is operating at capacity with participation rates in the labour market at the highest level.

He added that these capacity constraints are an internal risk.

“But the whole geo economic situation is something that as a small open economy, we worry about quite a bit,” he said.

The Governor said uncertainty has been a concern for the ECB for the last 18 months, with the pandemic and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“So we’ve been living in this era of uncertainty. And, my own view is that we need to be extremely cautious in our decision making,” he said.

Referring to the attempted strikes by Iran on Israel at the weekend, Mr Makhlouf said there hadn’t yet been any particular effects on markets.

“But you can’t rule out anything,” he added.

He said the worst-case scenario of an escalation in Middle East tensions from an economic point of view would be a repetition of the bottlenecks in the energy market.

However, it could be much more than that, he added, if the Red Sea completely closed.

“We could see trade routes affected,” the Governor said.

“So I think we should be ready for all scenarios right now. And just be very, very vigilant as we observe what what’s happening in, in the Middle East, in particular.”

Article Source – Makhlouf expects that ‘all things equal’ the ECB will cut interest rates in June – RTE

Copyright and Related Rights Act, 2000

Euro zone inflation heading to 2% after ‘bumpy’ road – ECB’s Lane

Euro zone inflation is heading to the European Central Bank’s 2% target next year after a “bumpy” road that will see it hover near current levels for now, the ECB’s chief economist Philip Lane said today.

“Even if the near-term inflation outlook is somewhat bumpy, the projected convergence of inflation to the target in 2025 will be underpinned,” Lane told students at University College Dublin’s Economics Society.

Among factors bringing down inflation, Lane listed lower labour cost pressures and an additional compression of corporate profits.

Article Source – Euro zone inflation heading to 2% after ‘bumpy’ road – ECB’s Lane – RTE

Copyright and Related Rights Act, 2000

Global cooperation needed around systemic risks from non-bank sector – Makhlouf

The Governor of the Central Bank has called for continued global coordination that will lead to progress in dealing with systemic risks arising from the non-bank sector.

Gabriel Makhlouf said the existing regulatory framework provides a good starting point to deal with the issues, but has not been designed for this purpose.

Speaking in Washington DC, ahead of the Spring Meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, Mr Makhlouf said the issue is extremely complex.

“Globally, the non-bank sector has grown rapidly over the past decade, and Ireland has one of the largest funds industries in the world with around €4.5tn in assets under management,” the Governor said.

“It is playing an increasingly important role in the global financial system and real economy, and is also becoming a more important source of finance in Ireland.”

“This can bring many benefits and support economic growth, but it can also generate, in certain circumstances, risks to the financial system.”

Mr Makhlouf added that history had shown that there is potential for certain parts of the funds sector globally to amplify adverse shocks.

“It is vital that our oversight of the system keeps pace with this change,” he said.

“We in Ireland believe that this risk requires a macroprudential perspective and collaborative engagement between securities regulators, prudential regulators and central banks.”

He said Ireland has played an active role in recent years in international efforts to develop solutions to address financial stability risks in the funds sector.

“We have introduced leverage limits for property funds connected to our domestic economy,” he explained.

“We are working with peer regulators in the EU to finalise policy measures in relation to sterling-denominated liability-driven investment (LDI) funds.”

But he added that global and European coordination is needed.

He said the existing regulatory framework provides a good starting point, but it has not been designed for this purpose and solutions cannot be “one-size-fits-all”.

Last year the Central Bank published a discussion paper which aimed to help advance the development of an international framework around the issue.

Mr Makhlouf said feedback would be published from that in the coming months.

Article Source – Global cooperation needed around systemic risks from non-bank sector – Makhlouf – RTE

Copyright and Related Rights Act, 2000

‘Significant’ drop in job openings in first quarter

There was a “significant” drop in job openings in the first quarter of the year, according to the latest Quarterly Employment Monitor from recruitment firm Morgan McKinley.

The research showed a 13.8% decrease in job openings compared with the previous quarter and a year-on-year decline of 29.6%.

The first quarter of the year saw a 2.4% decrease in professional job seekers compared to the fourth quarter of 2023 with an on-year drop of 31.3%.

Morgan McKinley said the reduction in job-seeking activity points to a more conservative approach marked by a reluctance among professionals to change jobs without secured offers.

The report found that overall, salaries have remained stable across various sectors, but there are exceptions in areas experiencing talent shortages, such as quantity surveyors, tax professionals, pension specialists, and cybersecurity experts.

The study also highlights a notable trend across all industries of the increasing requirement for onsite work, especially impacting technology professionals accustomed to more flexible arrangements before the pandemic, now facing minimum onsite requirements.

The research found that ongoing accommodation shortages in Ireland are continuing to hinder the hiring and integration of overseas talent, further complicating the employment landscape.

“The technology sector has seen a significant uptick in demand for permanent jobs due to the initiation of long-term digital transformation projects, mainly in Dublin,” Morgan McKinley Global FDI Director Trayc Keevans said.

“This demand is anticipated to extend to contract positions as initial project phases conclude. However, the market for daily contractors has fluctuated, initially decreasing due to cost-cutting measures but showing signs of recovery as the quarter ended,” Ms Keevans said.

Article Source – ‘Significant’ drop in job openings in first quarter – RTE

Copyright and Related Rights Act, 2000

ECB could cut rates more than three times in 2024 – Simkus

The European Central Bank could cut interest rates more than three times this year and the reductions should not be held back if the US Federal Reserve delays its own cuts, Lithuanian policymaker Gediminas Simkus said today.

Simkus, making some of the most dovish comments since the ECB’s policy meeting on Thursday, also said the bank could lower its 4% deposit rate in both June and July.

“There is a more than 50% probability that there will be more than three rate cuts this year,” Simkus told reporters in Vilnius. “Three rate cuts is a conservative estimate.”

The ECB put a rate cut for June on the table last week but ECB President Christine Lagarde said the bank was not signalling any move beyond that, given uncertainty for both growth and inflation.

Markets price just three cuts this year as expectations have retreated in recent weeks after unexpectedly high US inflation data pushed Fed rate cut bets out until the autumn.

“I see a nonzero probability that interest rate cut could also be in July,” Simkus said.

Simkus played down the impact of Fed decisions, arguing that the ECB will make independent decisions and the only issue at play is how a diverging rate trajectory impacts the real economy.

“I reject the idea that eurosystem is taking decisions based on what US policymakers are doing. There is no connection there,” he said.

“But obviously policy divergence changes trade conditions and economic development in both jurisdictions. This is reflected in forecasts and monetary policy decisions,” Simkus added.

Simkus argued that economic surprises are unlikely to overwrite plans for a June rate cut but said that an unexpected escalation of global political tensions could still impact the ECB’s plans.

Article Source – ECB could cut rates more than three times in 2024 – Simkus – RTE

Copyright and Related Rights Act, 2000

Ibec forecasts 2% growth but global uncertainty will weigh on Irish economy

Business group Ibec has said the Irish economy is still performing robustly, despite rising inflation and higher interest rates.

In its first Quarterly Economic Outlook for the year, Ibec is forecasting growth in GDP of 2% this year and 3.4% in 2025.

The report forecasts higher growth in exports, investment and it said the overall economy is expected to grow this year and next, on the back of falling inflation, and anticipated interest rate reductions.

Ibec’s Head of National Policy and Chief Economist Gerard Brady said falling inflation and anticipated interest rate cuts this year should provide a boost to the economy.

He pointed to the fact that the economy added 90,000 jobs in the past twelve months further evidence of the robust performance of the economy.

“For consumer facing businesses, the fall off in inflation to 2.3% in 2024, combined with high employment and rising wages will mean a return to real income growth for households, even though prices facing consumers will remain higher than previous years due to higher global commodity costs,” he said.

“Whilst the domestic market remains in a much better position than in much of Europe, there are broader concerns about the strength of the global economy which will weigh on Irish growth in the coming years.”

The global economy is entering a period of major change, the report claims.

Ibec anticipates the coming years will see more state-subsidised competition for investment in new technology, falling levels of trade openness and rising geopolitical risk in global supply chains, energy and commodity markets.

It said each of these means that there will be a more uncertain and volatile business environment facing Irish companies selling abroad, which in turn will increase focus on managing volatility, reducing vulnerability to inflationary swings and addressing overall competitiveness concerns.

“For the Irish economy, this means there will need to be a renewed focus on cost competitiveness, skills, infrastructure and our capacity to innovate to safeguard our export-led growth model,” Mr Brady stated.

Ibec said the Irish export model has been the driving force behind our economic success for several decades.

It has thrived in a global economy defined by a multilateral global order, a focus on opening markets and greater trade integration, it claimed.

For domestic policy these changes in the global economy will reduce the margin for error when it comes to improving our domestic cost competitiveness, skills, infrastructure and capacity to innovate, it said.

“Much of the underperformance in exports and capital investment last year was driven by once-off impacts caused by the timing of big investment decisions and reducing demand for Covid-related products in the BioPharma sector,” Mr Brady said.

“Headline economic figures for last year belie a robust performance on the ground, with 90,000 additional jobs added and a domestic economy that compares favourably with much of Europe.”

“For this year, we expect GDP growth of 2%”

He said this will be driven by a marginally stronger performance in the global economy and an improvement in some sector and product-specific sales which had cast a pall over overall exports in 2023.

“It remains the case, however, that intensified global competition in some sectors and relatively weak growth in key trading partners, particularly in the Eurozone, will mean more subdued export growth than had been the case for much of the past decade,” Mr Brady predicted.

Article Source – Ibec forecasts 2% growth but global uncertainty will weigh on Irish economy – RTE

Copyright and Related Rights Act, 2000

Construction activity returned to growth in March

Construction activity rose in March for the first month since June of last year and at the most marked rate for nearly two years, new data shows.

The BNP Paribas Real Estate Ireland Construction Index hit 51.6, just above the 50 mark that signals no change.

The growth was propelled by renewed expansion in both housing and commercial building.

Residential projects registered the biggest increase since May 2022 and the first rise in a year and a half.

While on the commercial side activity also rose solidly, ending a four-month sequence of decline.

“The March expansion was broadly based, but this conceals contrasting dynamics in the residential and commercial sectors,” said John McCartney, Director & Head of Research at BNP Paribas Real Estate Ireland.

“A surge in commencements has led to a pick-up in early-stage home-building activity. Our read is that housing delivery may struggle to reach the Government’s target in 2024.”

“However, the March PMI supports our view that the longer-term trend is positive. In contrast, the expansion in commercial activity has been driven by a final push to finish office blocks that were started some years ago.”

“When completed, these properties will add to already elevated vacancy, meaning that the only new starts for the foreseeable future are likely to be pre-let buildings.”

The research found activity had risen following increases in new orders, which also returned to growth during March following an eight-month sequence of reduction.

Construction firms also increased their staffing levels again in March, extending the current sequence of job creation to four months, with many companies saying they had recruited staff on a full-time basis.

The rate of input cost inflation quickened to a seven-month high, with higher transportation and labour costs reportedly adding to general inflationary pressures.

“In many ways the return to growth in March is no surprise. Employment, a classic leading indicator of activity, has risen in all but four of the last 36 months,” Mr McCartney said.

“Moreover, when directly questioned about their future expectations, Ireland’s building firms have been getting progressively more optimistic since July 2022.”

Article Source – Construction activity returned to growth in March – RTE

Copyright and Related Rights Act, 2000