ENERGY INDEX LOWER AS GLOBAL OIL PRICES STABILISE - Milder weather, less of a focus on events in Iran, and worries about the the potential impact of higher oil prices on consumer spending and inflation led to stabilisation of oil prices in March. The Bord Gáis energy index also points to mixed messages about the strength of the Chinese economy also weighing on oil markets.
Bord Gáis analyst John Heffernan says that March saw positive news on the world economy in general, however there were some mixed messages from China as it cut its growth target from 8% to 7.5% and its huge manufacturing sector started to show signs of struggling. The possibility that the boom in China is starting to slow spooked markets, Mr Heffernan said. He also said that geo-political tensions eased last month, which lead to the oil element of the index remaining unchanged in March. The disappointing US jobs figures, poor Spanish bond auction and concerns about Italy and Greece all combined to bring prices down. The Bord Gáis trader says that high petrol prices will stay in the short term and says that until the price of Brent crude comes down, prices will remain high at the pumps.
MORNING BRIEFS - There was more mixed figures from China this morning. They show that the world's second-biggest economy saw exports grow by a more-than-expected 8.9% during March compared to a year earlier, indicating that global demand may be picking up. But imports grew by 5.3%, down from a 39.6% jump the month before, raising fears about slowing domestic demand.
*** According to its annual report, Kingspan's CEO Murtagh was paid €1.3m last year, the same as in 2010, in a combination of salary, performance related bonus, pension contributions and benefit in kind contributions.
*** Facebook has bought the online photo-sharing website Instagram for $1 billion. Instagram is a two-year-old, non profit-making company with eleven employees. It is one of the most popular applications running on Apple's operating system and was named iphone App of the Year last year. Its number of registered users has almost doubled to 27 million in the past four months. Last week it introduced its app for Android devices. Facebook has 845 million registered users.
*** Microsoft has announced a deal to buy AOL's patents - the deal covers the intellectual property rights to 800 innovations. Microsoft will also be get the licensing rights to about 300 patents that AOL is keeping. The deal is mainly to do with legal issues and forcing sales bans against other firms. This purchase will put Microsoft in control of some of the core patents from the early days of the World Wide Web - areas included are key internet functions to do with email and messaging, as well as mobile and location-based technologies.
*** Sony is getting ready to cut its workforce by 10,000, or 6% of its global headcount, as part of a restructuring that has seen it sell two divisions and scale back its television production plans. The cuts will be announced on Thursday at a strategy briefing by the group's new chief executive, and will be the third significant round of staff reductions at the Japanese group since 2005.