E&Y FORECASTS FRAGILE RETURN TO CONFIDENCE IN THE EURO ZONE - The newly released euro zone Economic Forecast from Ernst and Young is pretty downbeat on both Irish and euro zone economic growth projections for the year ahead. Its forecast for Irish GDP, or annual economic output, growth for this year has been cut back from a previous prediction of 1% growth to just 0.1%. That is still ahead of other forecasts. It also says that economic output among the countries sharing the euro will contract this year and it will be 2014 before we start to see solid recovery take hold.

Marie Diron, a senior economic advisor to the euro zone forecast, says that economists have learned from this crisis the risk of underestimating the effect of austerity measures, adding that spending cuts and tax hikes do bite into household budgets. She says the brighter outlook for Ireland for 2014 and beyond shows the ''hard work'' already done by Ireland, adding that the road ahead if still a bumpy one.


MORNING BRIEFS - The S&P 500, the most broadly-based US stock index, closed just 2 points off its record high last night. The previous record was set in October 2007. The Dow Jones industrial average is also at record levels. The S&P milestone would be seen as more significant because it comprises a much broader group of companies.

*** Bank of England governor Mervyn King has said enough is enough as far as the fall in the value of sterling relative to other major global currencies is concerned. Last night the outgoing governor of the bank said he believed sterling was now "properly valued". That is a notable change of tone to recent statements on the matter. In January he described the weakening of sterling as "certainly necessary".

*** Ireland wants to be the leading country in Europe for ''Big Data''. The Department of Enterprise is throwing some weight and €1m behind a new research programme in data analysis. ''Big Data'' is the catch-all term given to describe the collection and analysis of huge amounts of information. That might involve, pictures, video, text and any other data that are being generated in myriad ways by the way in which we go about our daily tasks. Figuring out ways to properly interpret that information can help organisations, be they public bodies or private companies, provide more efficient services and better products.