Opening Bell: Dublin rents fall, Circle doubling Irish workforce, US Fed raises rates

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The average cost of rent in Dublin fell 1.5% in the first three months of 2017, according to new figures from the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB). 

Capital rents remain 8% above their previous peak in Q4 of 2007, however, with rents in Dublin and surrounding commuter counties among the highest in the country. Parts of Cork and Galway cities also placed above the national average.

The national average rent grew just over 7% year-on-year and now stands at €987 per month.

RTB director Rosalind Carroll has said it's not all bad news:

"What we're starting to see is a slight moderation in the rental prices. So for instance, the average rent across the country went from €986 to €987 per month. And in particular in the Dublin market, for the first time in a long time we've seen the rent go down..."

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Circle is set to double its workforce in Ireland as part of its ambition to become the world's default platform for digitally sharing money.

The Boston-based firm currently employs 20 people in Ireland, having established its international headquarters in Dublin in July 2014.

It wants to add as many new members of staff over the next two years.

Founder and chief executive Jeremy Allaire told The Irish Times:

"We're hiring a talent pool across a wide range of functions including compliance, risk, support, operations, legal affairs...

"Dublin is really becoming a critical office for us. It is the fastest growing one we have and we're obviously very committed to Ireland."

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Mobile roaming charges for calls, texts and data when travelling within the EU have come to an end.

The long-awaited deal between the European Commission and mobile operators means that Irish holidaymakers can use their normal allowance when in member states.

However, there has been a warning of charges for going over agreed limits, while consumer bodies have labelled some aspects of the law "misleading" due to the fact it won't cover domestic data allowances for a large number of Irish phone users.

Customers with unlimited plans will still be subject to data caps abroad.

European officials have hailed the new law "one of the greatest and most tangible successes of the EU."

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The US Federal Reserve has increased interest rates for the second time in three months.

Its key rates were hiked 0.25%, with the Fed citing continued economic growth and job market strength in the US as the reasons for the rise.

The Fed also outlined its plan to reduce its $4.2 trillion (€3.7tn) portfolio of Treasury bonds and mortgage-backed securities, chiefly purchased after the financial crisis hit.

It said in a statement:

"The committee currently expects to begin implementing a balance sheet normalisation programme this year, provided that the economy evolves broadly as anticipated."

Fed chair Janet Yellen said at a press conference that the reduction should be "gradual" and "predictable", adding that "we continue to feel the economy is doing well."