FED SEES SIGNS OF RECOVERY IN US – Ulster Bank senior economist Simon Barry says the minutes from a US Federal Reserve meeting show that it has revised upwards its expectations for the US economy for both this year and 2010.

He says that stabilisation and improvement has been a theme coming from across the Atlantic since April.

He adds that unemployment is a lagging indicator, and that any improvements in the US economy will take time to be reflected on the labour market there.

On the ESRI's latest quarterly report, in which the institute predicted that the Irish economy will contract by 9% this year and a further 2.3% in 2010, Mr Barry said he believes that it is an accurate assessment of where we stand at the moment.

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ABBEY FEELING EFFECTS OF SLUMP – House builder Abbey has reported a pre-tax loss of €54.4 million for the year ended April 30 2009, with the group feeling the full effects of the property market crisis.

However a tax credit of €3.8 million lowered the firm's losses to €50.6 million, which represented a loss per share of €2.06 per share.