Opening Bell: EU tax reforms, Europe considers migrant welfare ban, Microsoft results beat expectations

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The EU has unveiled a series of new proposals aimed at fighting tax avoidance by large multinational companies.

The measures include laws requiring all member states to align tax policy across the EU, a blacklist of so-called tax havens who refuse to co-operate, and a proposal to share tax-related information on multinationals within the bloc.

Ireland has said that it will "actively engage" in talks with the EU over new corporate tax laws, although it could take issues if the proposed measures go further than international standards.

EU tax chief Pierre Moscovici doesn't expect Ireland to have any problems with the new measures, "I have had several occasions to emphasise how Ireland is implementing Beps measures now, and the way they're doing it is quite remarkable, and I can't see any reservations arising," he said yesterday.

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British Prime Minister David Cameron will travel to Brussels today to hear an EU proposal which would limit benefits for migrant workers.

It's understood a 4-year temporary ban could be put in place - as long as ministers prove the welfare system is "under excessive strain."

EU leaders are trying to reach an agreement with David Cameron - and avoid a possible Brexit, which could be damaging to many countries, including Ireland.

Mr Cameron says this offer - described as an 'emergency brake' - shows Europe is taking on board his concerns:

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Microsoft's quarterly revenue and profit figures beat analysts' expectations last night - the strong performance was driven by cost cutting and an increase in demand for its cloud products and services.

Adjusted earnings per share were 78 cents on $25.69bn revenue, it was expected to report earnings of 71 cents per share, on revenue of $25.26bn.

As software sales struggle, the company is putting more resources into cloud computing and mobile technology.

"The enterprise cloud opportunity is massive, larger than any market we have ever participated in," chief executive Satya Nadella said, reacting to the results.

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Amazon's sales for the past three months, including the vital Christmas period, have come in below expectations.

But the internet giant still made just over €34bn worldwide between September and December.

That's 8 billion more than the same period in 2014 - but the company's earnings per share were disappointing and its stock price fell by 13% at one point during after-hours trading.