Opening Bell: Volkswagen reassures Irish drivers, ECB's downbeat outlook, retail stock sell off

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Volkswagen has moved to reassure the owners of vehicles affected by the company’s emission-cheating scandal that the value of their cars will not be affected.

The company will carry out repairs on some 115,000 Volkswagen, Audi, Skoda and SEAT vehicles in Ireland during the second and third quarters of this year.

In letters to the owners of these cars the company also indicated that the refitting will have “no impact” on road tax or NCT tests.

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One tenth of the cost of bailing out Irish banks has been recovered by the Irish Strategic Investment Fund - which was formerly the National Pension Reserve Fund.

During the banking crisis almost €21bn was drawn from the fund to contribute to the propping up of Irish banks.

An update from the ISIF has revealed that €6.4bn has been recovered through the sale of assets linked to Bank of Ireland and AIB.

The report also revealed that the value of the State’s 99.9% stake in AIB increased by an estimated 25% during 2015 - to €11.7bn.

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The European Central Bank has warned that the global economy has weakened since the start of this year.

A review of the eurozone’s growth prospects expects a modest recovery as volatile financial markets and a slowdown in emerging markets affects European economies.

It added that it believes that low oil prices, increased corporate investments and profitability and the ECB’s monetary policies will help to improve domestic demand across the bloc.

The bank’s interest rates remain at record lows, and it has committed to expanding its bond-buying programme in the hope of stimulating economic activity.

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Retail stocks took a hit across Europe yesterday after British fashion retailer Next warned that it believes that 2016 could be the toughest year for retailers since the onset of the financial crisis in 2008.

The company said it now expects its profits to fall by 4.5% during 2016 - this led to a 15% drop in its share price.

Next’s results provoked a broader sell-off of retail shares.

Marks & Spencer ended the day down by 4.3%, Debenhams was down by 3.1%.

Penney’s and Primark owners Associated British Foods shares fell by 4.1%.