Wednesday 29 March 2017

Irish and European stocks drop over Greece worries

Peter Flanagan

Peter Flanagan

IRISH stocks ended the week on a sour note, as the renewed turmoil in Greece drove markets lower across Europe. By the close of trading, the ISEQ Overall Index had fallen 0.54pc, or 16.78 points, to reach 3,101.84.

The index slumped from the opening and despite a slight recovery, spent most of the day trending lower. On the week, the index was down marginally, having opened on Monday at 3,135.32.

Eurozone finance ministers refused to approve a second aid package for Greece on Thursday night because of a lack of assurances by Greek party leaders that they would stick to their commitments after elections due as soon as April.

The ministers asked Greece to turn its budget cuts into law and identify €325m in spending reductions.

Greek Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos said after the Brussels meeting that the parliamentary vote set to begin this weekend amounted to a ballot on euro membership.

The uncertainty around Greece led to a wave of selling across the continent.

Most major stocks here closed the day lower, with the financials taking a particular battering.

Allied Irish Banks slumped 15.26pc while Bank of Ireland dropped 3.45pc. Irish Life & Permanent tumbled 3.85pc.

The pharmaceuticals firm Elan dropped 1.79pc. Smurfit Kappa ended the week on a sour note, falling 1.36pc to €7.16. However, Gary McGann's firm gained 12.76pc on the week.

Glanbia continued to drift away from the €5 barrier, falling 1.03pc to €4.80. The airlines also fell, with Aer Lingus down 0.64pc and Ryanair 0.69pc.

There were few winners yesterday, although Independent News & Media surged 8.89pc to 24c.

The Greek problem had a similar effect on the rest of the European markets.

National benchmark indices declined in 16 of the 18 exchanges. The UK's FTSE 100 Index slipped 0.7pc. France's CAC 40 Index dropped 1.5pc, while Germany's DAX Index lost 1.4pc. The Stoxx Europe 600 Index dropped 0.9pc.

In London, Vernalis jumped 29pc, for its biggest gain since July 2004, after entering a pact with closely-held Tris Pharma to develop cough and cold drugs.

ICAP slipped 3.9pc. The stock was cut to "neutral" from "buy" at Goldman Sachs.

Phoenix Group slipped 1.5pc. The UK's biggest manager of closed-life insurance funds declined, after saying that it had ended takeover talks with private equity firm CVC Capital Partners.

Irish Independent

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