Business Irish

Wednesday 16 August 2017

European stocks little changed as gains offset

Stock image
Stock image

European shares, stuck just below 21-month highs for more than a week, struggled to gain momentum yesterday, with strength in oil producers offset by weakness in mining and autos stocks.

By mid afternoon in Dublin, the ISEQ Overall Index was up 0.32pc or 22.48 points to 6,971.78.

European oil & gas stocks were lifted by BP and Royal Dutch Shell, while banking shares were also firmer, underpinning the pan-European STOXX 600 index, which was up 0.1pc.

Among the national markets, Britain's FTSE 100 rose 0.2pc, while Germany's DAX fell 0.2pc, weighed down by stocks including Hugo Boss and Evonik going ex-dividend.

European carmaker stocks were the biggest sectoral fallers, down more than 1pc. They were led lower by a 2.5pc fall in Daimler, which extended losses after its sites were searched on Tuesday by German prosecutors in an emissions probe, and a 1pc fall in Fiat Chrysler.

Shares in the Italian carmaker recouped some of their earlier losses after the US government sued it over emissions.

"This case is likely to take a long time (VW settled in 16 months) and should weigh on FCA's share price for some time as the message regarding the execution of its 2018 plan is likely to be overwhelmed," analysts at Barclays said in a note.

Miners were another weak spot with the basic resources index declining 0.7pc following a dip in copper.

Mining giant Glencore was also 1.1pc lower after it said that it had made an informal approach to US grains trader Bunge to discuss "a possible consensual business combination".

On the positive side, a well-received set of fourth-quarter results from Dixons Carphone lifted its shares more than 4pc, while Britvic's first-half update also boosted its shares. UK retailer Kingfisher was the biggest STOXX faller, however, down more than 6pc after a trading update, while engineer Babcock also fell 2.3pc after its full-year results.

Shares in aerospace groups Safran and Zodiac, whose merger plans have been criticised by some investors, were suspended.

US stocks were modestly higher late yesterday morning, aiming for a fifth straight day of gains, as investors awaited Federal Reserve May meeting minutes. US interest rates futures were steady. Fed funds futures implied traders priced in about an 83pc chance of a rate hike in June, little changed from Tuesday's close. On the currency front, trading flows were muted as the dollar gains some lift from a rebound in US Treasury yields from session lows.

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