A report on access to funding for small and medium enterprises across Ireland concludes there is a general lack of knowledge about available financing options in the sector and that small businesses are over reliant on short term debt. The report, by all island trade body Intertrade Ireland, looks at the supply of credit and demand from SMEs across Ireland. It says demand for credit is at its lowest level in three years and also suggests that small businesses are often forming the view that banks are not lending from information they receive from the media, business groups or peers rather than through direct experience and making a formal application for credit themselves.

Aidan Gough, director of strategy and policy at Intertrade Ireland, says the perception that finance is unavailable for SMEs is due to serious deficiencies across the market with lots of misconceptions about how and when to approach banks for funding. Mr Gough urges companies to make formal applications to banks for funding, adding that it does not affect their credit ratings. Intertrade has also found that SMEs are over reliant on banks for funding, and have a much higher dependancy on bank funds than other European states. Mr Gough also says that SMEs are over reliant on short term funding like overdrafts and need to be made aware of the various forms of financial options available to them.


MORNING BRIEFS - Building materials group CRH has provided an update of its latest round of acquisitions. The stock exchange announcement covers the second half of 2013 in which CRH says it spent just under €220m. Deals in the six month period  includes an investment in a joint venture at a cement firm in India and the acquisition of Mykolaiv Cement in Ukraine. 

*** Aer Lingus carried a total of 10.7 million passengers last year - including passengers carried by Aer Lingus Regional, which is operated by Aer Arann. That is up 0.7% on the 2012 figure. Breaking down the figures, the airline's short haul passenger numbers were down almost 2% but Aer Lingus carried just over a million long haul passengers during the 12 months, a 12% increase. 

*** Latest accounts filed by the Irish retailer Avoca show a 73% rise in pre-tax profits to just under €2.1m. The Wicklow-based company makes and sells food, fashion and homeware across a chain of 11 shops and cafés and employs over 600 people. 

*** US natural gas prices are spiking on the back of the deep freeze affecting much of the continental United States at the moment. Natural gas for next day delivery into New York rose to a record high of $90 per million British thermal units. That is up 660% from last week's closing price - a telling indication of the demand for fuel amid some of the worst winter weather in many parts of the US for more than two decades.