Opening Bell: Ulster Bank results, German fears of a hung Dail, Brexit and #GE16

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Ulster Bank has announced operating profits of €362m for 2015, down from just over €600m last year. 

The fall in profitability mainly reflects the fact that Ulster Bank was able to release less than half the amount of reserves it had made against bad or impaired loans last year, compared with 2014.

That in itself is a sign of a strengthening balance sheet for the bank and an improving economy generally.

Its business in the 26 counties also saw net interest income fall by just over £100m last year, primarily due to the weakness of euro relative to sterling causing a lower return on its free funds.

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Economic consultancy DKM has warned that political parties have failed to address the potential impact that the UK leaving the EU would have on Ireland during the election campaign.

The company's chair Brendan Dowling says that Ireland is not preparing for the fallout of a British exit, which would lead to an economic slowdown in the UK and disruption to trade between Ireland and Britian.

"At the moment it would appear that none of these factors are in the forecasts for the Irish economy," he added.

Mr Dowling added that Irish voters have put a "low value" on stability during the election campaign as they have shifted towards supporting independents with a low likelihood of "forming a functioning government."

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As the country goes to the polls, German bank Berenberg has warned of instabiity caused by a hung Dail affecting the share prices of Irish banks.

The bank said that the election of a Fine Gael-led government is the "most favourable scenario," because of its "commitment to not increase the bank levy or impose caps on mortgage rates."

The bank analysed the manifestos of all Ireland's major political parties.

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GSK is announcing a multi-million euro investment in its Cork operations.

The Pharmaceuticals giant is investing €12m in its research and manufacturing facilities.

The company says this will allow it expand the range of medicines it makes in Ireland.