New car sales slow again in May – CSO

New car sales slow again in May – CSO

The number of new private cars licensed for the first time fell again in May as imports continued to rise, new figures from the Central Statistics Office show.

A total of 9,126 new private cars were licensed in May, down 2.5% from the 9,362 registered the same time last year.

Meanwhile, the number of used, or imported, cars licensed increased by 2.7% in May to 9,062 as a weaker sterling continues to make it more attractive to buy and import vehicles from the UK.

The CSO also said there was a 1% decrease in the number of new goods vehicles licensed in May, bringing the total to 2,514.

In the first five months of 2019, a total of 73,781 new private cars were licensed, down 7% compared with the same period last year.

And the number of used private cars licensed increased by 3.5% compared with the same time in 2018.

Figures last month from the CSO had shown that new car sales rose by 19.4% in April compared to the same time last year, with the increase mainly due to the timing of Easter.

Today’s CSO figures also show that Volkswagen was the most popular make of new private car licensed in May. It was followed by Toyota, Renault, Opel and Ford.

The CSO said that together these five makes represent 45% of all new private cars licensed in May.

The CSO also noted that in the first five months of this year, 47.5% of all new private cars licensed were diesel, compared with 55.5% the same time last year.

When it comes to buying cars, licensing and registration are different processes. A vehicle is licensed when a valid motor tax disc is issued for the first time whereas registration occurs when a vehicle gets its licence plate (registration number) for the first time.

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IMF sees euro as undervalued, ECB policy support necessary – document

IMF sees euro as undervalued, ECB policy support necessary – document

The International Monetary Fund believes the European Central Bank must maintain supportive monetary policy, an EU document seen by Reuters showed.

The document anticipated the content of a report the IMF will present to euro zone finance ministers next week.

The fund also intends to repeat its calls for Germany and other euro zone surplus countries to increase spending, while pushing Italy and other high-debt states to create more fiscal space by implementing structural reforms, the document said.

Those moves would help strengthen the euro exchange rate, which the IMF sees as slightly undervalued, the document said.

The ECB is expected today to announce new measures to help the ailing euro zone economy and may even set the stage for more action later this year.

The IMF will present its annual report on the 19-country euro zone to the bloc’s finance ministers at a meeting next week in Luxembourg, but the main issues of the report have been already discussed with euro zone representatives this week.

The IMF will say that “monetary policy accommodation by the ECB remains necessary,” said the document which summarises the content of the Fund’s report.

The IMF will also recommend that “countries with ample fiscal space should use it to boost potential growth” – seen as a reference to Germany, which maintains a large trade surplus.

On the other hand, euro zone countries with high debt, like Italy, “should create more fiscal space”, the document said.

These moves are expected to favour internal and external rebalancing which the IMF considers useful as its staff “still see a small undervaluation of the euro exchange rate,” it added.

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Housing commencements rose by over 31% in Q1

Housing commencements rose by over 31% in Q1

New figures today show that the number of housing commencements rose by 31.6% in the first quarter of the year compared with the same time last year.

The latest Housing Market Monitor, published today by Banking & Payments Federation Ireland, showed that 5,8000 housing commencements were registered in the first thee months of the year.

The Housing Market Monitor also showed that mortgage approvals and drawdowns both grew strongly in the first quarter, increasing by 9.2% and 8.9% respectively.

It noted that the volume of purchase mortgage drawdowns rose to its highest first quarter level since 2008.

The BPFI figures also revealed that cash sales accounted for an estimated 27.1% of sales on an annualised basis in the first quarter of this year, down from 31.2% a year earlier.

Meanwhile, residential property prices increased by 3.9% year-on-year in March – the lowest rate of annual growth in average prices since August 2013.

The BPFI said its latest Housing Market Monitor points to the need for a range of solutions and stakeholders to meet current housing needs.

Its economist Ali Uğur said that in recent years the private rented sector has been dominated by residential individual investors.

“BPFI mortgage drawdown data show that these individual investors accounted for around 20% of the value of drawdowns in 2006 during the peak of activity. However, since 2008, along with the decline in activity until 2013, the share of mortgages accounted for by residential individual investors declined significantly,” the economist said.

He said the market is seeing increased activity by the non-household sector – which includes companies such as pension funds, specialist private rental firms and Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) in the domestic residential property market.

“This in a way shows that, to a significant extent, buy to let sector investors which have been traditionally individual investors have been replaced by institutional investors in the Irish housing market over the last 10 years, particularly in the new apartment sector,” Mr Uğu said.

He said that while the latest figures shows signs of progress on housing supply, significant challenges remain.

“Given different segments that make up the housing market from a demand perspective and the needs of these different segments, it is important to recognise that we need a number of stakeholders, both from the private and public sector, to play a role in addressing the nation’s housing needs with perhaps a different product mix varying according to needs, from houses to apartments and purchase to rental,” the economist added.

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Pound hits 20 week low against the euro

Pound hits 20 week low against the euro

The pound dropped to a 20-week low against the euro amid weak UK data and growing fears of a disruptive Brexit weighing on the currency.

The pound has dropped for four straight weeks, hit by concerns that Britain will crash out of the European Union on October 31st without an agreement on the terms of its departure.

Sterling remained just above five-month lows, trading flat on the day around $1.268.

Against the euro, it fell 0.2% to 88.92 pence, a four-and-a-half-month low.

US President Donald Trump, who arrived in Britain yesterday, has backed Brexit hard-liners such as Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage.

He’s to meet Prime Minister Theresa May and attend a dinner that may include Brexit backers like Johnson.

Nearly a dozen candidates are vying to replace Mrs May as prime minister.

Johnson, the bookmakers’ favourite, says the UK should leave the EU without any agreement.

Short positions on sterling are at their highest since March 17th, according to the US Commodity Futures Trading Commissions, reflecting uncertainty on Britain’s economic outlook.

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Second call of online retail initiative opens

Second call of online retail initiative opens

The Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Heather Humphreys has opened the second call of Enterprise Ireland’s Online Retail Scheme.

The Scheme, an initiative of the Government through Enterprise Ireland, offers a total of €1.25 million in funding to online retailers.

The funding supports research, strategy development, implementation and training.

It aims to enhance retailers’ online sales capabilities and increase their competitiveness as they scale their businesses to international markets.

“Increasing the international sales of Irish companies translates into sustaining and creating high-quality, sustainable jobs across the country — something that this Government is firmly focused on,” Ms Humphreys said.

“Aligned with this, the Online Retail Scheme is intended to enable Irish retailers to expand their reach to a wider customer base both at home and abroad.”

Stephen Hughes, Head of Consumer, Enterprise Ireland, said the Scheme was “developed in response to the challenges currently faced by the retail sector in keeping up with consumers’ ever-changing appetite for quick and easy consumption and the advances in digital capability.”

“At least half of the total number of funds will be awarded to Irish retail businesses based outside of Dublin,” Mr. Hughes projects, highlighting “the important role played by retailers in regional communities.”

Any Irish-owned retail business with 10 or more employees and a physical retail outlet can apply for funding ranging from €10,000 to €25,000.

The six-week application period opens on Wednesday, 19th June and closes at 3pm on Wednesday, 31st July.

The move has been welcomed by trade organisation, Retail Excellence, which said it would give Irish retailers the resources to respond to external challenges like exporting in Q4 in a difficult post-Brexit environment, flat consumer confidence and increasing business costs.

“While we’re clear that today’s Call 2 launch is most welcome, the fact is that this scheme has been rolled out on a pilot basis, so it’s a step in the right direction,” said Bryan Rankin, Head of Public Affairs with Retail Excellence.

“However, the level of State support and financial intervention needs to be far more ambitious, in our view.”

“We will be working with Minister Humphrey’s office to scale up funding to a level that can impact positively on the thousands of retailers that sell Irish products and services online.”

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Housing commencements rose by over 31% in Q1

Housing commencements rose by over 31% in Q1

New figures today show that the number of housing commencements rose by 31.6% in the first quarter of the year compared with the same time last year.

The latest Housing Market Monitor, published today by Banking & Payments Federation Ireland, showed that 5,8000 housing commencements were registered in the first thee months of the year.

The Housing Market Monitor also showed that mortgage approvals and drawdowns both grew strongly in the first quarter, increasing by 9.2% and 8.9% respectively.

It noted that the volume of purchase mortgage drawdowns rose to its highest first quarter level since 2008.

The BPFI figures also revealed that cash sales accounted for an estimated 27.1% of sales on an annualised basis in the first quarter of this year, down from 31.2% a year earlier.

Meanwhile, residential property prices increased by 3.9% year-on-year in March – the lowest rate of annual growth in average prices since August 2013.

The BPFI said its latest Housing Market Monitor points to the need for a range of solutions and stakeholders to meet current housing needs.

Its economist Ali Uğur said that in recent years the private rented sector has been dominated by residential individual investors.

“BPFI mortgage drawdown data show that these individual investors accounted for around 20% of the value of drawdowns in 2006 during the peak of activity. However, since 2008, along with the decline in activity until 2013, the share of mortgages accounted for by residential individual investors declined significantly,” the economist said.

He said the market is seeing increased activity by the non-household sector – which includes companies such as pension funds, specialist private rental firms and Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) in the domestic residential property market.

“This in a way shows that, to a significant extent, buy to let sector investors which have been traditionally individual investors have been replaced by institutional investors in the Irish housing market over the last 10 years, particularly in the new apartment sector,” Mr Uğu said.

He said that while the latest figures shows signs of progress on housing supply, significant challenges remain.

“Given different segments that make up the housing market from a demand perspective and the needs of these different segments, it is important to recognise that we need a number of stakeholders, both from the private and public sector, to play a role in addressing the nation’s housing needs with perhaps a different product mix varying according to needs, from houses to apartments and purchase to rental,” the economist added.

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Euro dips on Italian debt worries and trade tensions

Euro dips on Italian debt worries and trade tensions

The euro dipped today as investors nervous about trade tensions bought into the safe-haven dollar and fretted that political risks in Europe remain high.

This is despite the fact that pro-Europe parties won a majority of European parliamentary seats.

Remarks by two euro zone officials that the European Commission was likely to fine Italy on June 5, because its rising debt and structural deficits break European Union rules, also weighed on the single currency.

Pro-Europe parties kept a majority of seats in last week’s European parliamentary elections. Support grew for eurosceptic and right-wing parties, but not as much as investors had feared.

European leaders now meet in Brussels to fill in a number of top EU posts, from the head of the European Commission to the European Central Bank.

Currency markets remain in tight ranges without new catalysts and amid uncertainty over how trade tensions between the US and China are affecting the world’s major economies.

The euro slipped 0.1% to $1.1179 as the euro’s initial gains after the EU election results were fleeting.

The dollar rose 0.2% against a basket of peers, but it remains off a two-year high of 98.371 hit on Thursday.

Sterling slipped 0.1% to $1.2671 as candidates to succeed British Prime Minister Theresa May laid out some of their Brexit plans.

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