Opening Bell: NAMA rejects State aid claims, The Central Bank warns of Brexit fallout, Oil goes below $40

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The National Asset Management Agency (NAMA) has rejected claims that its €5.6bn residential building programme, which was announced last week, breeches EU state-aid rules.

A group of five leading Irish developers have complained to the European Commission - saying that NAMA's plans to build 20,000 homes in the greater Dublin area will distort the Irish housing market.

They argue that NAMA's borrowings are supported by a State guarantee which allows it to access money at up to six times cheaper than commercial builders can.

"NAMA is satisfied that, based on its own analysis, it believes there is no State aid and it looks forward to engaging with the EU commission on the matter," the agency said in a statement.

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Ireland's Central Bank has highlighted the "negative" affects that the UK leaving the EU could have on Irish exports, job creation, and the country's financial sector.

It added that the scale of the impact that it would have depends on the terms of an exit, and the extent to which new barriers are created regarding the movement of workers, and financial interactions.

“Some sectors, including agri-food, clothing and footwear, tourism and computer and financial services continue to have a relatively high dependency on exports to the UK and, consequently, would be affected disproportionately,” the bank said in its macro-financial review.

Britain must hold its in/out referendum on EU membership before the end of 2017.

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Enterprise Ireland has backed Government plans which aim to achieve a spend of €5bn on research and development by 2020.

CEO, Julie Sinnamon admitted that the plans, which would see Ireland spend 2.5% of its GDP on R&D by the end of this decade, will be "a stretch" to achieve.

The Government committed to the spend when it launched its Innovation 2020 yesterday.

According to Eurostat Ireland's spend last year was €2.9bn, or 1.55% of the country's GDP - this is well below the EU average of 2% and just over half of the Union's target level of 3%.

"They are achievable targets, yes they are ambitious because they have to be, we want to drive this country forward. The Taoiseach has committed us to 2.5pc - he has asked every department to prioritise a research and innovation agenda in their budgets," Minister for research and innovation Damien English said at yesterday's launch.

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The price of a barrel of oil has sunk to below $40, the price of a Brent oil fell to $39.81 yesterday, before rebounding to $40.50.

The global oil glut has grown to the point that there are fears what companies will run out of space to store their excess reserves.

Prices have not been this low since February 2009. Crude oil prices have fallen by 64% since June 2014 - Goldman Sachs has said that oil prices could fall as low as $20 as the global glut continues.