Opening Bell: House prices rose by 8.5% in 2015, ISME criticises "outlandish" election promises, Chinese markets plunge

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A new survey has found that house price growth in Dublin has slowed while prices have continued to rise at an increasingly fast pace outside of the capital.

The Daft House Price Report shows that average house prices rose by 8.5% during 2015.

Prices in Dublin increased by 2.7%, while in some regions along the south and west coasts and along the border region annual increases were as high as 18%.

The report adds that a shortage of new properties persists across the country, with only 25,000 homes being on the market on the 1st of January 2016 - that's the lowest figure since 2006.

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With the next general election a matter of weeks away - political parties are being urged to avoid promises that will increase the cost of doing business by ISME, the business representative body.

It says its members have the potential to create 60,000 jobs however it's citing the increase in the minimum wage, which came into effect at the start of this year as a factor which will impact on job creation.

ISME's Quarterly Business Trends Survey found that owner managers in the retail sector are expected to cut staff numbers by as much as 10% after the minimum wage was increased by 50 cents an hour to €9.15 last week.

Spokesperson Mark Fielding has this appeal for politicians to avoid "outlandish promises" as the campaign proper gets underway:

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Trading on the Shanghai and Shenzhen stock markets in China has been suspended for the day after shares plunged by 7%.

The Shanghai Composite Index has fallen to its lowest level in nearly three months, on what was the first trading day of 2016.

An earlier 15-minute break in trading, when shares had fallen by more than 5% failed to stem the slump.

This is the worst-ever start to a new year for Chinese markets. Today was the first day that new rules to suspend spending to stem losses came into effect.

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A survey carried out by the Financial Times has found that 76 of 100 economists surveyed by the newspaper believe that leaving the EU would harm the UK's economic prospects.

The group also highlighted a potential British exit from the EU as the main threat to the British economy at the beginning of 2016.

British PM David Cameron has claimed that British membership of a reformed EU is vital for the UK's economic security - he has committed to holding an In/Out referendum on EU membership before the end of 2017.