Ireland plots a summer return to bond markets

Julian Harris
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IRELAND will dip its toes back into the international bond market this summer, but only if it passes a referendum on the European Union’s proposed fiscal compact.

Michael Noonan, the country’s finance minister, said yesterday that Ireland’s rosier economic outlook should allow the government to test some sales of its bonds.

“We don’t have a fixed timetable,” Noonan admitted, yet Ireland will wait until the result of a poll on the new EU pact scheduled for 31 May.

Noonan appeared keen for Ireland to be able to return to the markets, yet said that conditions have to be in place. As well as the government’s deficit reduction plans being fixed, the finance minister said that bank balance sheets would also need to be in a healthier position.

Yet the economic slowdown, which has forced Ireland back into recession, has dented prospects for this year and Noonan said his department will likely trim 2012 GDP growth forecasts to around 0.75 per cent from 1.3 per cent when they publish figures next week.

Irish debt is set to peak at 119 per cent of GDP next year.