Opening Bell: ECB plans more QE, the Topaz fallout, the EU eyes McDonald's tax payments in Luxembourg

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The European Central Bank holds its monetary policy meeting in Frankfurt today - there is wide speculation that it will increase its attempts to stimulate the eurozone economy.

It was revealed yesterday that inflation across the euro bloc was almost stagnant at 0.1% in November - far from the bank's 2% target even after months of quantitative easing which has seen the ECB spend €60bn per month buying European bonds.

Further stimulation would be likely to drive down the value of the euro which would be positive for Irish exporters - but costly for Irish people traveling to non-Euro countries.


Shares in Irish service station operators fell yesterday after the announcement that Topaz has been sold to the Canadian company Alimentation Couche Tard.

Shares in Applegreen, Topaz main rival, took a 5% hit after the sale was announced.

The value of the deal is undisclosed but analysts estimate that the Canadians are likely to have paid between €350m and €450m for the Irish company which has been owned by businessman Denis O'Brien for the last two years.


McDonald's is the latest international company who's tax payments has attracted the attention of the European Commission.

As part of a Europe-wide crackdown on tax avoidance European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager is expected to launch an investigation into the fast food chain's tax payments in Luxembourg later today.

A mix of unions and charity groups including the War on Want have accused the company of avoiding close to €1bn in tax payments between 2009 and 2013.

McDonald's said that it has not been told of any investigation, and that it complies with all of Europe's tax laws and business rules.


Federal Reserve Chairwoman, Janet Yellen has given fresh indications that interest rates will rise in the US after the bank's Open Market Committee meeting in December.

"I don’t need unanimity. I think we have to tolerate some dissent," she said last night commenting on a softening in opposition against an increase.

The Fed will hold its final meeting on December 15th and 16th.