NTMA'S VENTURE BACK INTO THE MARKETS GOOD NEWS FOR IRELAND - Ireland is going to offer around €2 billion of bonds this week in its first debt sale of 2013. The National Treasury Management Agency has said it is reopening a 2017 bond, first sold last July, as more funds are raised ahead of the planned exit from the €67 billion Troika programme. Last July's initial €3.8 billion sale marked Ireland's return to the long-dated market following the November 2010 rescue programme. It sold the 2017 bonds at a yield of 5.9% last year, but Irish debt has performed strongly since and was offering a yield of 3.25% before the NTMA's announcement.

Paul Sommerville, of Sommerville Advisory Markets, says the announcement from the NTMA is very good news, adding that the agency is generally running '' a very good ship''. He says today's sale is expected to raise about €2 billion, which is about 20% of what the NTMA needs to raise this year. The yield is predicted to come in at around 3.30%. The sale today will be through what is called a "syndicated tap" meaning it will issue additional amounts of an existing bond, due for repayment in 2017, rather than issuing new bonds. Mr Sommerville predicts the sale will be well received as the markets are very optimistic that we are getting out of the slump. He points out that the risk gauge, the Vix, is at record lows since 2007 as market players believe that central banks will jump in and rescue any country that gets into economic difficulty and so they are willing to bet on anything. The analyst also says that it is a ''fantastic'' time to secure a deal on the country's bank debt in the next few months.

On the upcoming reporting season, which kicks off today with quarterly results from aluminium giant Alcoa, Mr Sommerville says he is expecting very upbeat and optimistic comments from company chief executives as they continue to see signs of recovery. He says that investors should especially watch out for quarterly results from technology titan Apple - due on January 22.


MORNING BRIEFS - Exports from Germany, Europe's biggest economy, were sharply lower in November compared with the previous month amid economic weakness elsewhere in the euro zone. The Federal Statistical Office said today that exports - a traditional strength of the German economy - dropped 3.4%. Growth in Germany slowed in 2012 after two strong years, but the economy is expected to pick up after a weak fourth quarter and continue growing in 2013.

*** UK bookmaker Ladbrokes is in talks to buy Betdaq,- the Dermot Desmond controlled betting business for a reported €37m. Ladbrokes said it is in discussions with the Dublin-based betting exchange regarding a potential future acquisition, but added that there was no certainty that an agreement would be reached. A deal would see Ladbrokes enter new territory as Betdaq is a betting exchange rather than a conventional bookmaker.

*** Samsung Electronics has said it expects to make a record profit for the three months to the end of December, powered by growing sales of its smartphones. It has estimated an operating profit of $8.3 billion for the quarter, a near 90% jump from the same period a year earlier. That would make it the fifth quarter in a row of record profits for Samsung. The success of its Galaxy smartphones helped Samsung overtake Nokia as the world's biggest phone maker last year. One of the key drivers of Samsung's smartphone sales in recent months has been its Galaxy S3 model. But the phone is facing increased competition, from rival Apple - which launched its iPhone 5 in September - and Nokia and HTC, which have also launched new handsets powered by Windows Phone 8, in an attempt to increase their market share.