Opening Bell: AIB makes €1 billion, tracker mortgage customers overcharged, EU shows Iberian nations mercy

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AIB has announced a pre-tax profit of €1 billion for the first six months of the year.

This was €200 million lower than the same period in 2015.

The bank said the profit was driven by a strong business performance, net provision writebacks of €211 million and one-off benefits, including the sale of its share in Visa Europe.

It has achieved €6.1 billion in new lending approvals to customers so far in 2016.

AIB also confirmed a bailout repayment to the State of close to €1.8 billion. The bank has now paid €6.5 billion of the €20.8 billion bailout back to the taxpayer.

However, AIB also revealed that some 3,000 of their tracker mortgage customers have been overcharged on their loans.

The bank will begin communicating with the first groupings of customers in August to inform them that they will be given financial compensation and placed on the correct rate going forward.

It has set aside €190m to deal with the matter.

It follows a review of its books as part of a trawl of tracker mortgage accounts ordered by the Central Bank last December.

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Permanent TSB's chief executive believes Michael Noonan would be "leaving money on the table" if he sold off the State's 75% stake in the bank now.

According to Jeremy Masding, if the Minister for Finance came to him looking for a deal today, he would advise against it.

Masding wants to spend the next 12 to 18 months making the business as valuable as possible before any Government decision on a sale is made.

The comments come after PTSB announced its first after-tax profit since 2007.

Shares in PTSB – which have lost more than half their value this year – rose 5% to their highest level since before the Brexit vote on foot of the news.

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Enterprise Ireland has argued that there are still opportunities for Irish businesses in the UK.

In a positive update to its clients, the agency said Irish firms would be "missing a trick" if they dismissed the UK after the Brexit vote, arguing it will "remain a natural first market for Irish exporters".

It pointed out seven potential opportunities, including the Northern Powerhouse agenda, the NHS, the water market, financial services and aerospace.

Despite the claims, it appears Irish businesses will exercise caution in the short-term.

UK retail sales fell at their fastest pace in over four years this month, due to consumer wariness.

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Spain and Portugal have escaped EU fines for breaking budget rules, in a sign that austerity is softening after the Brexit vote.

The countries were told earlier this month that they had failed to take "effective action" to bring their deficits below the 3% of GDP limit over the last two years.

The European Commission was legally obliged to propose fines, with many favouring a small penalty of 0.01% of GDP – which would have cost Spain around €100m and Portugal €10m.

Instead, the EU executive has agreed to hold off on fines, saying that the timing wasn't right.

Both countries now have until October to decide on new austerity measures.

Portugal has until the end of the year to meet the 3% GDP limit, while Spain has until 2018.