The global management consulting group Accenture is to create 250 new posts here between now and the end of August. The new roles will bring Accenture's work force here to 1,850 people.

Alistair Blair, Country Manager for Accenture Ireland, said recruitment would begin straight away. "We're recruiting around the country. We're looking for 200 people with a range of experience and an additional 50 new graduates on top of that," he stated. The jobs are mainly in the technology area or with an emphasis on technology in the management consulting sphere. "What we see is a huge focus on digital and analytics. Clients are trying to work out how best to serve customers as they move to use of mobile or other means that doesn't involve walking into a shop or a branch," Mr Blair said.

Alistair Blair said that this was Accenture's third round of significant expansion in as many years and it was a reflection of the improving economic performance in Ireland. "We're a constant recruiter in the market. We can offer long term careers. We're competing in a competitive market place and we'd hope to attract home some of the individuals who have gone overseas in recent years." 

Mr Blair said the budget measure being proposed by President Obama in the US, which would tax US multinational earnings overseas at a rate of near 20%, would not affect Accenture. "We're a global firm and we operate in 53 countries with 300,000 employees globally. We pay tax in countries according to the jurisdictional law in those countries so it doesn't affect us," he explained. On the question of whether the state should retain a stake in Aer Lingus, Mr Blair said the most important thing is the retention of links and connectivity but that it was up to the board of Aer Lingus to make a decision.

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MORNING BRIEFS - Oil prices look like they might have stabilised having gained 11% in the last two sessions. Some investors believe a bottom might have been reached in the market, seven months after the sustained decline began. Prices jumped in the past two days after data showed the number of operational US oil drilling rigs had fallen the most in a week in nearly 30 years. Brent crude futures were 34 cents higher at $55.09 a barrel early this morning. Some OPEC delegates, however, warn that prices may stay depressed until summer due to weak seasonal demand with some predictions of prices going as low as $30 a barrel.

*** Australia's Central Bank has become the latest to loosen monetary policy in response to falling oil prices and concerns around economic performance. The Reserve Bank cut its key interest rate by a quarter of a percent to 2.25% - an all time low.
The cut was widely expected and was greeted with a stock market rally and a fall in the Australian dollar which reached a six year low of 76.5 US cents. Australia's economic growth for the third quarter came in well below expectations, while its unemployment rate hit a 12-year high of 6.3% in November.

*** UDG Healthcare - formerly United Drug - has been giving an update on performance this morning. It said its trading year had got off to a strong start in most of its divisions but its supply chain services are being hit by the changes in the Irish wholesale market. UDG expects earnings per share for the full year to the end of September to be between 5% and 8% ahead of last year. If current exchange rates are sustained for the year, reported EPS will be higher than this range.

*** Bloomberg has reported that Google is about to take on car sharing and taxi service Uber with an offering of its own. Google is reported to be testing its own car sharing app, despite the fact that it is one of the biggest investors in Uber. Uber, meanwhile, is said to be developing its own driverless car, an area in which Google has been attempting to steal a march on its rivals.