Morning business news - January 20

Monday 20 January 2014 10.32
Morning business news with Emma McNamara
Morning business news with Emma McNamara

Ratings agency Moody's upgraded Irish Government bonds from junk status on Friday night. Moody's was the only agency left which still categorised Ireland's bonds as junk. It said it took the step because of Ireland's potential for growth.

Food group Greencore's chief executive Patrick Coveney says the upgrade will have a positive effect on businesses in the Irish market. Mr Coveney says the move continues to build the country's credibility, adding that international investors' views towards Ireland have really been transformed over the last number of years. Ireland is now a place where international investors want to put their money, the Greencore boss adds. The upgrade will directly help businesses - like Greencore - by keeping the cost of debt funding lower.

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MORNING BRIEFS - Greencore holds its AGM next week, and it is expected to report strong business momentum. Fans of Munster Rugby will be interested to hear that its academy and Greencore have signed a three year partnership to sponsor the Munster Rugby Academy, focusing on a number of initiatives like nutrition, lifestyle and business mentoring support to academy players. 

*** Providence Resources has been granted a follow-on exploration licence for its Drombeg prospect, 220 km off the coast of West Cork. 

*** The value of US highway contracts awarded in December increased by 14% compared to the same month in 2012 - the figure was 15% for the year as a whole. This is good news for building materials firm CRH, as contract awards are the best way to measure highway construction activity in the US and CRH is the biggest provider of raw materials into  that market.

*** Google says it is testing a "smart contact lens" that can help measure glucose levels in tears. It uses a "tiny" wireless chip and a "miniaturised" glucose sensor embedded between two layers of lens material. The firm said it is also working on integrating tiny LED lights that could light up to indicate that glucose levels have crossed certain thresholds. It said though that "a lot more work" needed to be done to get the technology ready for everyday use.  Google hopes this could someday lead to a new way for people with diabetes to manage their disease.

*** China's economy slowed in the fourth three months of last year, to its slowest pace of growth in 14 years. Gross domestic product in the world's second-biggest economy expanded by 7.7% in the fourth quarter compared with the same period a year earlier, according to figures released by the Chinese government today. Growth of 7.7% for the whole of 2013 was the same as in 2012, mostly because of an investment-heavy "mini-stimulus" in the third quarter last year that offered a temporary boost.

*** Deutsche Bank said its profits had been battered by a slowdown in the debt markets as it revealed a sharp fall in fixed income revenue and further costs for litigation and restructuring in the final quarter of 2013. The German lender announced a net loss of €965m for the last three months of the year as it rushed out its full-year numbers 10 days earlier than expected, following rumours of a potential profit warning in the markets last week.  Deutsche Bank is Germany's biggest lender.

*** Shares of Japan's Nintendo plunged as much as 18% this morning after the gaming giant issued a profits warning. On Friday, Nintendo said it expects to make an operating loss of $335m for the financial year ending 31 March 2014. The company blamed weaker-than-expected sales of its Wii U console during the Christmas season for the downgrade in its earnings forecast. As a result, it lowered its global Wii U sales forecast for the business year from nine million to 2.8 million units - a cut of nearly 70%.