CREDIT UNIONS IMPOSING SAVING LIMITS ON THOUSANDS OF MEMBERS - Thousands of credit union members across the State are being asked to withdraw some of their savings, as caps are being applied to deposit accounts.

Some are imposing saving limits as low as €15,000. The move is being blamed by credit unions on the costs charged to them by banks to hold that money on deposit, as well as tighter regulatory requirements. According to research conducted by The Irish Times, at least 36 credit unions across the State have imposed savings limits on their members. Kildare Credit Union is the latest to introduce a cap on savings, telling members that a new limit of €40,000 would apply from July 1st. Savers who have more than this on deposit will have to find an alternative home for these excess funds. It follows similar moves from other credit unions around the country recently. Drumcondra Credit Union in Dublin has imposed one of the lowest limits, telling members that they will have to reduce savings to €15,000. "The current rate of return offered to us from banks is still negative. This means every time we lodge money, the bank charges us," Paul Reddin, chief executive of Drumcondra Credit Union, told its members. Credit unions also blame Central Bank rules for cutting the amount of savings they can accept from members. This is because credit unions are required to maintain 10 per cent of their assets as a minimum regulatory reserve.

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IRELAND WILL BE WORST-HIT BY US TARIFFS, SAYS IMF - The Irish economy will be hit three times harder than Germany and worse than any other developed nation if the US imposes a blanket trade tariff, the IMF has warned. 

A new study from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) put Ireland top of a list of countries that will be worst hit by US tariffs. The study models the impact of a potential 5% tariff imposed across the board by the US. It was released yesterday amid a series of trade disputes that have pitted the United States against China and against some of Washington's closest allies, including the EU, says the Irish Independent. Ireland's goods exports, it calculates, would fall by more than 0.6%. That's more than three times the drop experienced by Germany, which is the target of Donald Trump's threat to impose tariffs "until no Mercedes models rolled on Fifth Avenue in New York" as part of his bid to get more of the products sold in the US built there by American workers. Based on last year's exports from here to the US that figure is equal to lost exports of €234m. In May, a report by the Commerce Department stated that imports of foreign-made cars were "weakening our internal economy" in a way that was damaging the economic security of the United States, highlighting a drop in the share of the car market held by US owned companies to just 22% now from 67% in 1985. President Trump has delayed bringing in the tariffs on car imports for six months in order to give the EU, Japan and other major exporters a chance to negotiate on the issue.

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CRH SHARES SINK DESPITE MORE BUYS AND UPTICK IN US INFRASTRUCTURE APPROVALS - Shares in CRH fell by more than 3% yesterday despite signs of a recovery in roadbuilding contracts in the US and the group strengthening its building products business there. 

The Irish building materials giant's shares have fallen by around 11% over the past 12 months, writes the Irish Examiner. Europe's largest activist investor, Cevian Capital, bought into CRH earlier this year and is expected to grow its stake. CRH has since defended its organic growth capabilities after reports suggested Cevian viewed the group's growth prospects as being too heavily dependent on acquisitions. CRH spent around €200m on 16 bolt-on acquisitions during the first four months of this year. Via its US-based Oldcastle Infrastructure subsidiary - part of the group's building products division - CRH has now acquired Washington State-based water management and utility solutions company Granite Precasting and Concrete for an undisclosed sum. It follows on from the purchase of Quality Concrete Products - a provider of water management products for infrastructure projects also based in Washington - in April. "The deal continues to expand CRH's exposure to the water management segment, considered a key growth area," said Davy analyst Robert Gardiner. Latest figures from the American Road Transportation Builders Association, meanwhile, show a recovery in the level of roadbuilding contracts being granted in the US. CRH said last year that US infrastructure projects - including road and housebuilding - using its products would be a key growth driver for it over the coming years.

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MOST HELP-TO-BUY RECIPIENTS COULD ALREADY AFFORD A HOME - More than half of people using the UK government's help-to-buy loan scheme could have purchased a home without support from the state, according to Whitehall's spending watchdog. 

In a critical report into the government’s flagship scheme to help more people get on the property ladder, the National Audit Office said about three-fifths of buyers could have bought a home without the support, writes the Guardian. The scheme, launched five years ago by the former chancellor, George Osborne who was hoping to boost housing supply amid a national shortfall, also pumped up the profits of Britain’s biggest housebuilders, the NAO said. According to the report, which used figures supplied by the ministry of housing, communities and local government, as few as 37% of buyers said they could not have bought a property without the support of help to buy, meaning the scheme has led to as few as 78,000 additional sales of new-build properties since 2013. Ranked as the government's most expensive initiative to boost housing supply, with about 211,000 loans worth £11.7 billion made to house buyers over the past five years, the NAO said help to buy had achieved its goals of increasing home ownership and the construction of new homes. About 38% of all new-build property sales have been supported by the loans, equivalent to about 4% of all housing purchases during this time. In a sign that the scheme has helped bring new homes to the market, the number of new-build properties sold has risen from 61,357 a year to 104,245 a year in 2017-18. However, the scheme, which offers buyers loans worth up to 20% of the market value of an eligible new-build property - and 40% in London - with zero interest for five years, is not means tested.