Opening Bell: Enda's legacy, US stocks' Trump slump, Paddy Power Betfair eyes US expansion

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Ireland's business community has reacted to the news that Enda Kenny has stepped down as Taoiseach and Fine Gael leader.

Ibec CEO Danny McCoy said: "Enda Kenny represented Ireland at home and abroad with great energy and dignity. His boundless positivity chimed with the innate optimism of the business community. He effortlessly won over audiences internationally, who were always impressed at his receptiveness to new ideas and his embrace of Ireland's open, global outlook.

"As a leader, he steered the country from the doldrums of the Troika to where we are today, a rapidly growing and internationally feted economy of substance. For his service to the country at often incredibly challenging times, we owe him a debt of enormous gratitude."

As he walks away, Ireland's unemployment rate is at 6.2% and the country is expected to remain the fastest-growing economy in the EU in 2017.

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The US's main indexes registered major losses yesterday, erasing almost all of the gains made since US President Donald Trump took office.

The worst day in trading in almost 12 months came as the controversy concerning connections between Trump's campaign and Russia continued to escalate.

The Nasdaq lost 2.6% while the S&P 500 was down by 1.8%.

Investors fear that the damage done in recent days will compromise Mr Trump's ability to push through the business reforms which he has promised.

The US Justice Department has appointed former FBI Director Robert Mueller to lead a federal investigation into Russian interference in the US election.

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Paddy Power Betfair's echief executive Breon Corcoran has indicated that the betting group hopes to expand its operations in the US.

"I think that market has yet to open up properly. I would hope we could do more there, it's a question of legislation and opportunity. There is a lot of appetite to do more if the right thing comes up at the right price," he said yesterday, according to Reuters.

He added that the competitive nature of Europe's betting market means that more companies will either merge or "wither on the vine."

The group bought Draft, an online fantasy sports business, last week in a deal worth €48m.

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80% of Irish agricultural companies expect to grow their businesses in 2017, according to a new report into Ireland's Agricultural sector.

The Irish Farmers Journal/KPMG 'Agricultural Thinking' report says that the industry accounts for 250,000 jobs and €11bn in exports. 

22% of companies saw the evolving political landscape across the world as one of the key external challenges for Irish exporters.