Opening Bell: Ireland's €200m budget bonus, Apple's Galway planning hearing, falling iPhone sales

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New figures from the Department of Finance could show that Ireland's next government will have €700m available for tax and spending measures in 2017 - this is €200m more than previous forecasts.

This would afford parties extra leeway as government formation talks continue.

Budget 2016 assumed that €500m would be available next year, but The Irish Times reports to have learned from an informed source that this figure will be significantly higher.

All EU states are required to send an update on its budgetary position to Brussels at the end of this week.

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Apple's proposed €850m data centre in Athenry, Co Galway faces a oral hearing with An Bord Pleanála.

Objections to the project, which will create 300 construction jobs, range from fears over power supply and traffic congestion to concerns for the health of the local bat population.

The US firm says that it will, "Welcome the opportunity to address any additional questions An Bord Pleanála may have."

"Our plans are for our greenest data centre yet, which is designed to be sympathetic to its surroundings and, like all our data centres, run on 100% renewable energy from day one," it continued.

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Apple will release its results for the first three months of 2016 tonight and it is expected to show its first quarterly drop in iPhone sales.

The company is also forecast to show its first quarterly drop in revenues in over a decade.

Analysts expect sales of iPhones to be down by almost 20% compared to 12 months ago as it nears the end of the iPhone 6 cycle.

The company has recently cut the cost of its Apple Watch - it has not revealed now many watches it has sold.

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A planned strike by Luas drivers on Thursday now looks likely to go ahead after SIPTU and Luas operator Transdev failed to reach an agreement in their long running pay dispute.

Transdev says drivers had sought pay increases of 26.5% in talks yesterday - without offering additional productivity.

While SIPTU has called on management to re-engage in negotiations in order to reach what they call a just solution.

Meanwhile, the three non-driver grades at Luas voted to accept a 13% pay rise over three years yesterday.