600 jobs are to be created by two multinationals here in the next year. Microsoft is taking on 100 professionals and graduates, while accounting and consulting practice, PwC, is taking on 500 people over the next 12 months.

Feargal O'Rourke, Managing partner with PwC, said the company had just completed a successful graduate recruitment season which will see it take in 280 graduates. "On top of that, we will be taking on at least 220 experienced hires. These are people who are professionally qualified and have worked elsewhere. We had significant demand among graduates given that we have a very strong brand," he explained.

Mr O'Rourke said the need for more staff was a reflection of the improved economic backdrop, but also the increasingly complex nature of business which is becoming increasingly regulated. "Companies are turning to us and the demand for our services has been exceptional. We see that increasing over the next 12 to 18 months."

The range of professionals that the company is looking to recruit is a reflection of the blurring of the lines with traditional business. In the past, PwC would have hired individuals in the areas of audit, taxation and management, but this latest round will see it take on staff in the areas of regulation and cybersecurity. "Business is becoming more regulated, particularly in the financial services area. Many companies can't do it in house so they are outsourcing to the likes of us."

Feargal O'Rourke said PwC was also hoping to lure significant numbers of people home from abroad, but that it would be a challenge. "The taxation environment is a significant negative, but the mood music around Ireland is positive. People who left in 2008/09 are looking to come home. The jobs are there, the economy is picking up and tax cuts at middle incomes are sending a positive signal. The lure of Ireland is very strong," he concluded.


***
MORNING BRIEFS - Dairy company Ornua has sold a majority stake in its US speciality foods distribution business, DPI Foods, to Arbor Investments for a figure understood to be in excess of €30m. The former Irish Dairy Board is to retain a minority 20% stake in the company. It will use the proceeds to invest in developing its markets in the the US, Europe, the Middle East and China.

*** The era of cheap money could be coming to an end very soon. The US Federal Reserve gathers for its last two day meeting of the year tonight.  The Fed is widely expected to raise interest rates tomorrow for the first time in nearly a decade. Once that process starts, it is only a matter of time before others follow suit - however, it is safe to say that the ECB will not be raising interest rate for a while yet. The expected Fed rate move is having an impact on the wider market. Oil prices, already under pressure from over-supply, took a further hit yesterday, falling to a seven year low.

*** It looks likely now that the European Commission investigation into Apple's tax dealings with Ireland will not be concluded in the lifetime of this Government. Officials here have been asked to provide further details about taxes paid by Apple. The investigation started over a year and a half ago and was expected to have wound up by now.


*** Ratings agency Moody's has joined the likes of the Fiscal Advisory Council in advising the Government to use any unexpected bounce in tax revenues to pay down the national debt. The agency said Ireland's debt rating would likely be upgraded to an A rating if the debt was reduced faster. Yesterday, employers group Ibec said any spare cash should be used to invest in the national infrastructure.

*** The US city of Seattle has passed a measure allowing drivers of smartphone-based taxi services such as Uber to join a union. It is the first move of its kind in the US but is seen as a setback for the companies, which have sought to avoid regulations that apply to traditional taxi services. The companies have vowed to challenge the legislation in court.