London and Dublin listed online booking platform, Hostelworld, has reported an 8% increase in group net revenue to €86.7m. Its group adjusted profit after tax was 12% higher at €21.7m for the year to the end of December.

Feargal Mooney, CEO of Hostelworld, said the results were strong across the board with booking volumes up 6% to 7.5 million. "Average booking value also held steady despite some foreign exchange headwinds. We're very pleased, despite some challenging markets, particularly in Europe." 

With the data protection regulations (GDPR) coming into force in the coming weeks, Feargal Mooney said Hostelworld had always been very conscious of protecting customer data. "It's not something that's new, particularly in the European context. In Europe, data protection has always been higher profile than in the US. It's something we've always been careful and conscious about. We have the policies in place and we give customers the choice in terms of how they want us to manage that."

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44% of loans that are classed as being in long term arrears are more than five years past their due date, according to the latest analysis from the Central Bank on the mortgage arrears situation. Paul Joyce, of the Free Legal Advice Centres (FLAC) said the Central Bank was giving itself a "pat on the back" for the progress made in dealing with arrears. "We're not as confident. 29,000 accounts have been in arrears for more than two years. There's been very little writedown of debt which we believe is necessary," Mr Joyce said.

On the Central Bank's claim that four in ten borrowers in long term arrears had not engaged with their lender, Paul Joyce questioned where that figure had come from and he also asked about lenders and their compliance. "There's no mention of lenders' compliance with the code of conduct on mortgage arrears. There hasn't been a single sanction against any lenders for a breach of regulatory obligations," he said.

He also expressed concerns about Permanent TSB's proposed sale of up to 14,000 principle private dwellings as part of a wider loan book sale. "4,300 of those are split mortgages. The split mortgage seems to have been Central Bank's 'favoured son'. The borrowers entered into that process in good faith. They filled out the required statements. They now may find out that their mortgage is going to be sold onto a vulture. It's extraordinary that these long term arrangements, that have been advocated by the Central Bank, may be in jeopardy," he concluded.

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MORNING BRIEFS - Facebook shares fell in after hours trade last night ahead of CEO Mark Zuckerberg's appearance before politicians in Washington today and tomorrow. The shares had been making back some losses throughout the day as the social network moved to notify the 87 million users whose data had been harvested by a third party. About $80 billion has been knocked off Facebook's market capitalisation since the controversy emerged.

*** Russian stocks suffered their biggest one day fall in four years yesterday and the rouble plunged as economic sanctions hit home. Moscow's blue chip index was down over 8%, while the Russian currency fell more than 4% against the dollar.

*** Chinese President Xi Jinping has promised to open the country's economy further and lower import tariffs on products, including cars. The President's speech is being interpreted as an attempt to defuse an escalating trade dispute with the US.