DEMAND FOR CREDIT FROM SMEs EDGES HIGHER - While demand for credit among smaller and medium-sized businesses remains low, almost one in five loan applications is still being declined by the banks - that is according to a new survey commissioned by the Department of Finance. The survey, by Red C, also shows an increase in loan refusals among the non-pillar banks. There have been though, "improvements in turnover performance" among medium-sized businesses, which led to a small increase in those looking for finance. The figures - which are for October last year to March this year - show demand at 40%, up from 39% in the previous survey, and 38% a year ago.

Red C's Richard Colwell says the overall picture continues to show signs of stabilisation with SMEs ''doing OK'' in terms of their business, which in turn drives up demand for credit. However, he points out that application times remain an issue for SMEs, with the average time taken by a bank to issue a decision on a loan put at 21 days, longer than the recommended 15 days by the Department of Finance. But he says that it does not appear the longer a company has to wait for a loan, the more chance of that loan being refused. The survey also reveals an increase in the conditions attached to loan approvals, as banks are approving more full loans instead of partial loans. Mr Colwell says that restructuring loans remain the biggest problem for micro companies.


PHLOK SET TO CREATE 100 JOBS AFTER RAISING FUNDS - Phlok - a social media platform for business - says it can create 100 jobs over the next 18 months after raising investment of over €450,000. The jobs are for software developers, and for sales, training and account management staff mostly in the firm's Dublin headquarters. Phlok is an internet and smartphone based platform where consumers can collect a virtual currency, or Phlok Points, to spend in businesses that have signed up to the Phlok network. It is intended to boost business by incentivising rewards and helping business stay in contact with their local customers.

Phlok's founder Paul Graham says that his previous company had tried to use social media and found that it did not work they way they wanted to. To this end, he created Phlok in an effort to help local businesses to attract consumers back to their main streets. He said the company's goal is to connect local businesses with local people incentivising consumers to shop local.


MORNING BRIEFS - Eason, the book and stationery group, recorded a pretax profit of €3.1m for the year to the end of last January. It was the first time in five years the company recorded a profit. Most of this was down to payroll savings from a restructuring plan that saw the headcount there fall by 224 staff.

*** US bookstore chain Barnes & Noble has seen its fourth-quarter net loss more than double to $118.6m (£77m) as sales of its Nook e-books and devices continue to drop.

*** US home prices have seen their biggest annual rise since 2006. The Standard & Poor's/Case Shiller index, which monitors single-family home prices across 20 cities, rose 12.1% in April compared to the same month last year. The jump, due to increasing demand and a shortage of supply, was bigger than analysts expected. All cities except Detroit experienced year-on-year price rises, with 12 posting double-digit gains. San Francisco saw home prices rise more than 20% over the year.