Opening Bell: Irish gas prices drop, UK bankers fear economic slowdown, China's industrial profit upswing

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Irish wholesale gas prices have dropped by 41% during March, year-on-year.

This is due to an “abundance” of gas supply in Europe and fluctuations in euro values.

The Wholesale Energy Market Report - published by Vayu Energy - found that gas prices in Ireland are at their lowest level since April 2010.

Prices remained unchanged between February and March, on average they have been 38% lower during the first quarter of 2016 - compared to the same period in 2015.

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A new survey of the UK’s financial sector shows increased economic uncertainty.

Confidence among financial companies has fallen at its fastest rate since 2011.

Uncertainty over the Brexit vote, increased market volatility, and a slowdown in China and emerging economies are the main concerns.

The CBI / PwC survey of the financial sector found that the banking and investment management sub-indexes are the most pessimistic.

The financial sector accounts for 10% of the UK’s GDP.

This report comes weeks after Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne downgraded the UK’s projected economic growth from 2.4% to 2% in 2016.

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New data from the United States shows that consumer spending edged up by just 0.1% during February.

This spending accounts for two-thirds of the country’s economic activity. This makes it less likely that the Fed will decide to raise interest rates in the coming months.

Investors will be playing close attention as the Fed chair, Janet Yellen makes a speech in New York this evening.

She is expected to reiterate the central bank's commitment to conservative rate increases during 2016.

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Industrial profits in China returned to growth during the first two months of 2016 as the property market recovered.

Year-on-year industrial profits were up by 4.8% - the corresponding figure in December was a decline of 4.7%.

Profits were down during all of the final seven months of 2015. A continued upswing in the property sector, increased consumption, and improvements in commodity markets are expected to continue to boost profits.

The official growth forecast for the overall economy is between 6.5 and 7%.