Big hits wipe out food, pharma gains
IRISH shares were little changed yesterday, as gains among food and pharmaceutical companies were overshadowed by losses from some of the major stocks.
By the close of trading, the ISEQ Overall Index was down 0.26pc, or 7.55 points, to 2,926.45.
CRH fell again yesterday, dipping below €15 for the first time since March. Analysts at Citigroup cut their rating on the construction giant from hold to sell, and added it to its list of "least preferred" stocks.
The loss was accentuated by data from the US -- a major market for CRH -- which showed that more Americans than forecast filed applications for unemployment benefits last week, a sign the labour market is struggling to gain momentum.
Jobless claims rose by 10,000 to 424,000 in the week ended May 21 when analysts had been expecting the unemployment rate to drop.
The airlines had a difficult day with Ryanair (down 0.29pc) and Aer Lingus (down 1.22pc) both recording a daily loss.
The food sector had another good day. Sandwich-maker Greencore recovered some ground it had lost earlier this week to close up 0.44pc, while Glanbia jumped again, ending the session up 2.11pc at €4.85. Aryzta added 0.26pc to close at €38.30.
Pharmaceuticals firm Elan rose 2.12pc to €6.31 after chief executive Kelly Martin said the company would probably do another licensing deal in the next six months as it focused on treatments for nerve disorders.
Elsewhere, most European stocks retreated after the head of the group of eurozone finance ministers said the International Monetary Fund (IMF) may not release its portion of an aid payment to Greece next month.
National benchmark indexes dropped in 16 out of 18 West European countries. The UK's FTSE 100 Index climbed 0.2pc and France's CAC 40 Index lost 0.3pc. Germany's DAX Index slumped 0.8pc, while the Stoxx 600 declined 0.1pc.
"Should Greece default, it is a problematic scenario for risky assets and for the financial system," said Thomas Steinemann, chief strategist at Vontobel in Zurich. "It's a story killer."
European stocks consolidated their losses as Jean-Claude Juncker, who leads the eurozone's group of finance ministers, said that the IMF may withhold its contribution to the latest Greek bailout payment.
Burberry sank 4.6pc, as the company said its operating margin would probably fall in the first six months of the fiscal year. Burberry also reported that full-year adjusted pre-tax profit rose 39pc.
Man Group, the world's biggest hedge fund company, gained 2.5pc after posting a smaller-than-estimated decline in annual profit, and said sales in its final quarter exceeded redemptions.