Opening Bell: Irish beef faces US uncertainty, Steve Mnuchin sworn in, S&P hits $20 trillion

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Irish beef could be slapped with a US tariff as high as 100%.

The Office of the US Trade Representative is holding a hearing in Washington DC to discuss applying such a tariff to a host of EU imported products as part of US President Donald Trump's protectionist agenda.

The Irish Independent has seen documents calling for submissions on the situation, with over 11,500 responses received prior to the deadline.

The US market reopened for Irish beef producers in 2015, with then-minister for agriculture Simon Coveney stating that it could be worth €100m annually to Irish beef exports.

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Workers at eight Tesco stores are taking to the picket lines this morning, in a row over contracts.

Tesco is calling on workers to accept a Labour Court recommendation, while the union involved says the action is totally avoidable.

Mandate assistant general secretary Gerry Light commented:

"They can stop it by simply writing to the union and giving us a guarantee that no changes will be brought about without the agreement of the workers. They've been saying for the last number of days that the strike is unjustified because they actually haven't made the changes.

"Now on Friday, I wrote to the company and said... if that is the case and that will remains the case, simply write to us and confirm this. They've just simply ignored that letter."

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Steve Mnuchin, Donald Trump's nominee for US Treasury Secretary, has been sworn in by Vice President Mike Pence.

The former Goldman Sachs banker's appointment was approved by mostly Republicans, with only one Democrat voting in his favour.

He has promised to create more jobs and combat terrorist activities and financing.

Speaking at the ceremony, Trump said Mnuchin would be great for the country:

"Steven knows the system and he will help to ensure that Wall Street plays by the rules. He will put his skills to work for America's working families and he will help make America the greatest jobs magnet on the face of the Earth.

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The value of the S&P 500 crossed the $20 trillion mark for the first time on Monday, thanks to investor optimism over accelerated economic growth and bolstered corporate profits under the Trump administration.

According to FT, the index tracking the biggest US companies has rallied by almost 25% over the past year, pushing its value $3.6tn higher.

The latest record high comes ahead of the imminent unveiling of what Trump has described as a "phenomenal" tax plan, with his announcement last Thursday sending stock prices and the dollar even higher as the week drew to a close.

The S&P was also driven by a resurgence in Apple shares – the Cupertino tech giant closed at an all-time high on Monday.