Opening Bell: Brexit volatility, 40% of central Dublin office space sold in the last three years, Fed stalls on rate hikes

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Sterling volatility surged to levels not seen since the financial crisis yesterday after three separate opinion polls put the Leave campaign in the lead just two and half weeks ahead of the referendum on June 23rd.

The pound fell by as much as 1.5 cent or 1.2% against the dollar to $1.45.3 after the polls were released, while sterling weakened by more than a cent to 78 cent against the euro.

Meanwhile, a PWC survey of Irish chief executives published last night shows that while more than 90% of them say a possible Brexit is the top threat to business growth just one in ten have carried out any serious planning for its impact.

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More than a quarter of all office space in Dublin has changed owner during the past three years according to a new report from Savills Ireland.

This rate of turnover has been described as "extraordinary," as almost 40% of prime office space in central Dublin changed hands during the period.

Institutional investors and the new stock market-listed Reits have become the biggest buyers of office property in the city since the beginning of last year, accounting for 40% of transactions by volume and 80% by value.

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The S&P 500 index, probably the most representative index of US share prices, rose to a seven-month high yesterday evening to 2109 and to just 21 points below its all-time high of May 2015 following comments by the chairman of the US Federal Reserve, Janet Yellen suggesting US interest rates may not rise again before the summer.

Her remarks followed much poorer than expected monthly jobs figures in the US last Friday which Ms Yellen described as "disappointing." She was broadly positive about the health of the US economy adding that "one should not attach too much significance to a single report."

Prior to last Friday, the market believed there was more than a 30% chance of an interest rate rise as early as the Fed’s next scheduled meeting next week which had caused the dollar to strengthen and share prices to mark time.

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The number of professionals needing help for mortgage difficulties has nearly doubled.

The charity, the Phoenix Project, says it's seen an increase in the number of doctors, solicitors and architects who're struggling to pay their mortgage over the past year

The Irish Times reports that 38% of the 18 hundred cases the charity is dealing with relate to professionals in mortgage arrears - up from 20% last year.