Opening Bell: Brexit concerns loom, Bank of Ireland ups growth forecast, Iran helps oil prices to recover

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The Taoiseach will travel to Brussels later as EU leaders try to cut a deal with the UK to prevent a British exit from the EU.

The Cabinet will meet this morning to give Enda Kenny the authority to negotiate on Ireland's behalf.

Enda Kenny is confident a deal can be struck, "Obviously, the 15-page document that has been circulated includes the four propositions from David Cameron. It is my view that they can all be dealt with," the Irish leader said.

The British Prime Minister is battling to win agreement from European leaders for a new deal on Britain's EU membership which he hopes to put to voters in a referendum on June 23rd.


Iran has cautiously welcomed Russia and Saudi Arabia's plans to freeze their oil output at January levels.

The country did not offer to join the pact - but its positive response was enough to push oil prices 7% higher yesterday. Officials in Tehran have remained committed to increasing Iranian oil exports.

Bijan Zanganeh, Iran’s oil minister, said he "welcomed" and "supported" proposed co-operation between OPEC and Russia, the world's second largest producer of oil after Saudi Arabi.

This would be the first such deal between cartel states and an outsider nation in 15 years.


Bank of Ireland has revised upwards its growth projection for the Irish economy, increasing from 4.8% to 5%.

It also predicts that employment will continue to increase, growing by 2.5% this year.

Dr Loretta O'Sullivan, Bank of Ireland's chief economist commented on the figures:

"There are positive signals of continued growth with the unemployment rate hitting a seven-year low in January and we foresee a continued rise in employment this year.

"The outlook for business is positive with an expected increase in activity and further investment. Ireland is continuing to perform well against European counterparts, demonstrating strong continued growth."


Minutes from the Federal Reserve's January 26th, 27th meeting show growing concers about the global economy. This is likely to push back any further interest rate hikes.

"While the exposure of the United States to the Chinese economy through direct trade ties was limited, a number of participants were concerned about the potential drag on the US economy from the broader effects of a greater-than-expected slowdown in China and other emerging market economies," the minutes said.

Officials expressed confidence regarding the US labour market, but they were less optimistic about manufacturing, saying that "spending and production had been disappointing."