Irish central bank sharply raises economic outlook

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

DUBLIN (AP) — The Irish Central Bank has sharply raised its economic outlook for Ireland but cautioned the government not to soften austerity plans in this month's budget, the first to be unveiled since the country's exit from an international bailout.

In its quarterly report Friday the bank says Ireland's gross domestic product should grow by 4.5 percent this year, driven by stronger-than-expected exports to its two biggest trading partners, Britain and the United States. The bank three months ago forecast 2014 growth at just 2.5 percent.

It said Ireland's trade surplus should exceed 11.8 billion euros ($15 billion), equivalent to 6.4 percent of economic output.

But the bank cautioned Finance Minister Michael Noonan to retain "more than the minimum necessary" austerity measures in his 2015 budget being unveiled Oct. 13.