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Tuesday Newspaper Review - Irish Business News and International Stories - - September 16, 2014
By Finfacts Team
Sep 16, 2014 - 11:42 AM

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Irish Independent

THE total awarded to personal injury claimants surged 22pc to €144m during the first half of this year.

However, this increase has been attributed to a "natural time lag" caused by a spike in claims in recent times, as the total number of claims declined 1.3pc in the eight months to August.

Compensation was awarded to 6,552 claimants, up from 5,286 during the first half of 2013 - but the average payout decreased by 1pc to €22,082.

More than three-quarters of all awards were made to victims of motor liability, with public liability and employer liability trailing behind at 17pc and 7pc respectively.

A CUT to the higher rate of tax is firmly on the Budget table as a way to provide relief to middle-income workers, provided the benefit can be clawed back from high earners.

But the average family is only expected to benefit to the tune of €300 a year from the modest tax cuts in Budget 2015.

The tax relief will be targeted to give the greatest benefit to those on middle incomes. The more a worker earns, the less their tax cut will be worth.

Labour ministers were briefed on the shortlist of tax options available to the Government by Tanaiste Joan Burton and her new economic adviser last week, the Irish Independent has learned.

A cut to the USC is virtually ruled out by Government, as it delivers a disproportionate benefit to higher earners, and is seen as too expensive.

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd [IPO-BABA.N] raised the price range on its initial public offering to $66 to $68, reflecting strong demand from investors for the year's most anticipated debut and potentially the world's largest-ever IPO.

The company and selling shareholders will now raise almost $22 billion at the top of the new IPO range. Alibaba remains on track to set an IPO record if underwriters exercise an option to sell additional shares to meet demand, overtaking Agricultural Bank of China Ltd's (601288.SS) $22.1 billion listing in 2010.

Alibaba embarked on its roadshow for the IPO last week and attracted enough demand to cover its entire deal within two days, people familiar with the process said last week. Trading is expected to kick off this week.

Irish Times

Irish universities lost some more ground to Asian competitors in the latest university rankings published today.

The QS rankings, one of the big three international league tables, showed Trinity College Dublin remained Ireland’s top university although it dropped from joint 61st place to joint 71st.

The 500-year-old institution, which is planning a rebranding later this year aimed at making it easier for international students to identify it as a university rather than a lesser “college”, ironically found itself sharing 71st place with a “school”.

Ireland ranks highest among European countries in terms of trade confidence, according to a new survey published on Tuesday.

HSBC’s latest Trade Condidence Index shows Ireland rating well above the neutral mark of 100 at 119, two points higher than in March, when the last survey was issued.

The study shows that Irish firms are feeling increasingly optimistic about the future with about 70 per cent of survey respondents expect trade volumes to increase over the next six months, compared to 65 per cent in the last report. However, the share of firms expecting a significant, rather than slight pick-up in trading volumes fell 3 per cent to 9 per cent.

(This HSBC report does not reflect an understanding of teh Irish market - Finfacts)

House prices have reached a new record high of £272,000 on average after surging by 11.7 per cent over the last year, according to an official report.

Several UK regions saw property prices reach fresh all-time highs in the month of July, with the East Midlands, the West Midlands and the South West now joining London, the East and the South East in having price levels higher than their pre-financial crisis peaks of 2007-08, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.

Property values in London continue to rise faster than the rest of the country, recording a 19.1 per cent year-on-year jump and taking the average property price in the capital to £514,000. On a month-on-month basis, property values increased by 1.6 per cent across the UK between June and July.

Chris Johns: It has only been a week-and-a-half since the Scottish independence debate exploded into life - or at least into our consciousness. Saturation media coverage since the first intimations of a Yes vote has focused attention on the possible break-up of the only contemporary example of a successful European monetary union.

A remarkable aspect of the outpouring of commentary, analysis and debate has been the monolithic view of the British: in love letters, begging letters, poems, songs, threats and promises it has been almost impossible to find anyone willing to say a happy goodbye to Scotland. Foreign commentary, including plenty emanating from this island, has found it hard to resist the temptation to stick one on the English.

Irish Examiner

It is unlikely that Irish banks will be able to offload their loss-making tracker mortgages using the ECB’s asset-backed securities (ABS) programme.

The ECB president, Mario Draghi, unveiled a new set of measures to stoke economic activity across the eurozone at the bank’s September monthly meeting, including a programme to purchase asset-backed securities.

The three domestic banks — Bank of Ireland, AIB and Permanent TSB — have just under €50bn of loss-making tracker mortgages sitting on their balance sheets.

The Government had been in negotiations with the troika during the bailout programme about looking at ways of moving these tracker mortgages either off balance sheet or setting up separate and cheaper funding lines. However, these talks failed to reach any agreement.

Europe

Euro Topics:  If the right-wing populist Sweden Democrats (SD) were able to secure 12.9 percent of the vote in Sunday's elections, thus more than doubling their share of the vote, it is above all due to widespread dissatisfaction with the country's integration policy, the liberal daily Göteborgs-Posten comments: "As a result of the unrest in many parts of the world, immigration to Sweden [in recent years] has been comparatively high. At the same time there's not enough housing or employment opportunities. As a result, people are marginalised and enclaves form on the outskirts of the big cities which seal themselves off from the rest of society. This creates dissatisfaction among the majority population and gives xenophobic forces like the SD a boost. ... If we want to reverse this trend, the other parties must take strong, concerted steps to improve integration and create a society in which there is just an 'us', a Sweden in which everyone has the chance to participate. In such a society the SD wouldn't have a chance."

France's Prime Minister Manuel Valls plans to explain his new government's austerity and reform policy to the National Assembly today, Tuesday, and then call a vote of confidence. Valls's opponents are playing right into his hands, the Catholic daily La Croix suspects: "Seldom has a head of government who was so much under fire called for a vote of confidence in the National Assembly. On the one side he is being attacked by the left-wing members of his majority - including members of his own party. These are the malcontents who criticise his policies on the grounds that they put too much stress on business and not enough on households' buying power. On the other side, the employers' association Medef is making provoking demands. ... In a way, these twin attacks are playing right into the hands of François Hollande and Manuel Valls. They let the executive cast itself as 'centrist', allowing it to say to one side that it is resisting the excessive demands of the other. In other words: give me your support or worse things will come."

Advance of the Eurosceptics continues: The success of the Sweden Democrats, like that of the Alternative for Germany party on the same day, shows that Eurosceptics continue to gain ground in Europe, the liberal Italian daily Il Sole 24 Ore warns: "There are no national elections in which nationalistic, xenophobic, Eurosceptic and anti-euro parties have failed to make progress. Their backwards-looking message first gains the support of a minority, who then becomes the majority. That happened in France with the Front National, in the UK with Ukip, in Denmark with the Danish People's Party. All of them emerged as winners from the European elections in May. Their successes have been played down on the grounds that the European elections are a sort of protest vote in which people do not act as responsibly as they do in national elections. Think again. This tide is not ebbing, it's swelling. The more people play down this danger - as if denying the obvious was enough to change reality - and the more they refuse to deal seriously with the challenge posed by the growing popular unease, the more fractured Europe becomes."


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