Opening Bell: Financial confidence up, Dublin traders' €30m Christmas hit, Scarlett Johansson's big earnings

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Consumers were more positive about their finances in December, according to Bank of Ireland.

Its latest Economic Pulse – which assess consumer sentiment – reveals that two thirds of people are planning to save over the next year.

Over one-third also think that now is a good time to buy big ticket items such as furniture and white goods.

Dr Loretta O'Sullivan, Bank of Ireland's group chief economist, commented:

"So with the situation where people are a bit more confident about money in their pockets, that then should feed through to consumer spending and we should see that starting to spill over into more spending in the shops across the different goods, be it the big ticket items. Also across department stores, across electrical goods and so on.

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Shoppers spent roughly €30 million less in Dublin this Christmas, the Irish Independent reports.

While traders in the capital are expected to take as much as €1 billion by January 4th, business group Dublin Town has blamed big political events for denting consumer confidence.

Dublin Town CEO Richard Guiney said:

"While footfall has been up, spending has been lower than previous years.

"Retail hasn't been great, there's been a dip in consumer confidence.

"There's been a great deal of online shopping as we would expect but there's a bigger issue of consumer confidence here.

"There's a degree of uncertainty with the election of Donald Trump and what that will mean for Ireland, and how Brexit will affect us.

"Britain is our biggest trade partner. These are clearly issues weighing on shoppers' minds this year as they go into 2017 with some uncertainty."

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Almost 60% of homeowners are planning on renovating next year.

According to a new survey from AA Ireland, 58% of respondents say they'll spend less than €5,000 on the works.

It says younger people are focused on making their homes safe from flooding – while redecoration, gardening and new furniture were all listed as priorities. 

Barry Aldworth from the AA outlines their findings:

"At AA Ireland, we recently did a survey of 11,000 of our customers and of our members and what that survey found was that 57% of those were planning on making at least some kind of improvement to their home within the next 12 months.

"Now, for the majority, they're looking at kind of the smaller end of the improvements, with 58% of those who were planning improvements saying that they were going to spend less than €5,000." 

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Scarlett Johansson has been named the highest-grossing actor of 2016, following her roles in Captain America: Civil War and Hail Caesar!.

According to Forbes magazine, the US star's movies brought in $1.2bn (€1.15bn) globally this year.

Her Captain America co-stars Chris Evans and Robert Downey Jr tied for second place with $1.15bn (€1.1bn) each.