TEAGASC PREDICTS SHORTAGE OF ANIMAL FEED IN THE SECOND HALF OF THE YEAR - Teagasc has said expenditure on animal feed will drive farming input prices up by around a fifth this year. In its mid year outlook, the agriculture research and development body says that, despite the good weather in recent weeks, there are indications that there will still be a shortage of feed in the second half of the year.

"We're looking at an expensive six months ahead," said Thia Hennessey, economist with Teagasc. "While that's negative on the cost side, on the output side it was quite mixed. Milk prices were very strong for the first six months and beef prices have remained strong for the past few years."

Dr Hennessey said beef prices have been supported by an import ban on beef from parts of South America which has kept supply tight and prices high. "We're looking at an average increase of 5% to 6% in prices this year," she said.

The economist pointed out that milk prices would be strong enough to produce an increase in income this year, adding that prospects are good for Irish dairy farmers when EU milk quotas are phased out in 2015. "Milk production could increase by up to 50% here. The increase across the EU will not be as pronounced. Prices will fall but the prospects are good for Irish dairy farmers."

Dr Hennessey said it looked likely that there would be a good cereal harvest which would result in lower crop prices due to a bigger yield. "That's the reverse of what we saw last year when yields were poor and prices high,'' she added.


MORNING BRIEFS - Barclays has said it will issue nearly £6 billion sterling in new shares to plug a capital shortfall created by new regulatory demands. The British bank made the announcement as it confirmed that second quarter pre-tax profit fell 17% to £3.6 billion. The bank also has plans to sell £2 billion in bonds.

*** Domino's Pizza group said that its first half like-for-like sales in Ireland rose by 6.5% compared to an increase of 2.9% the same time last year. It said that the improvement was seen across all parts of the country, and not just in Dublin.

*** Small businesses on the whole are optimistic about their future prospects, according to the latest survey from the Small Firms Association. The SFA reports in its second quarter sentiment study that six out of ten firms believe that their business would move into a growth phase in the next year, with a majority focusing on overseas markets. The SFA is calling on the Minister for Finance not to increase business costs in the forthcoming budget.

*** That call is echoed by the Irish Exporters Association in its pre-budget submission. It is calling on Michael Noonan to make it very clear that October's budget will be the last of the austerity budgets. It is also calling for more incentives to encourage more investors into export businesses and wants the Minister to confirm that the pension levy will be abolished at the end of 2014, as promised.

*** Vodafone has launched its public takeover bid for German mobile operator Kable Deutschland. It has made an offer of €87 per KDH share. The offer represents a premium of 51% to the weighted average share price of KDH before the takover speculation was launched.

*** American Airlines and US Airways are expected to win EU approval in the next week for their $11 billion merger to become the world's largest carrier. The two airlines are understood to have agreed to give up slots on a transatlantic route between Heathrow and Philadelphia after the European Commission raised competition concerns.

*** A merger that has overcome competition hurdles is that between Independent News and Media and Sekunjalo Media in South Africa. But the competition commission has laid down a number of conditions to ensure that there is no conflict between the Public Investment Corporation's holding in the new company and its existing stake in a number of rival media groups to INM in South Africa.

*** Japan's industry output fell by over 3% in June from the month before due mainly to reduced car production. It was the biggest fall in over two years, although figures were affected by May's impressive performance. However, on the upside, unemployment fell to a seasonally adjusted 3.9%, which was slightly better than expected. The yen also weakened which drove up stocks on the Nikkei, providing a further boost to exporters.