CRH biggest loser as shares fall
IRISH shares fell once more yesterday, as a sell-off of the biggest stock on the stock exchange combined with continuing worries in the Middle East to drive shares lower.
By the end of trading, the ISEQ Overall Index was down 0.58pc, or 17.38 points, to close at 2,959.16.
The Index started strong but hit the buffers in the afternoon as overseas investors came into the market.
The big loser on the day was CRH. The construction giant, which makes up almost a third of the ISEQ, fell 2.8pc to €16.31, after reporting a 27pc fall in profit last year. The company was also hit by a warning from US Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke that higher oil prices from the Middle East turmoil could weaken western economies if it continues for a sustained length of time.
CRH conducts a huge proportion of its business on the other side of the Atlantic.
CRH's loss dominated the market but it wasn't the only loser on the day.
The financials all had another tough one, despite EU economic and monetary affairs commissioner Olli Rehn telling reporters in Brussels a haircut of senior bank bondholders was "not in the cards". Allied Irish Banks slipped 1.89pc and Bank of Ireland fell 3.97pc to 34c. Irish Life and Permanent dropped 4.49pc to 94c.
Those losses may have tipped the index over the edge but most Irish stocks ended the day in positive territory.
Glanbia climbed 1.11pc to €4.30 in anticipation of its annual results today, while Aryzta added 1.63pc on the back of continued strong sentiment for the food and beverage sector. Cider maker C&C added 0.59pc to €3.56.
Independent News and Media jumped 4.24pc on the back of a positive report from Citibank.
Elsewhere, National benchmark indexes fell in 14 of the 18 western European markets. Germany's DAX slid 0.8pc, while France's CAC 40 and the UK's FTSE 100 retreated more than 1pc. The composite Stoxx Europe 600 closed off 2.4pc.
"People are wary," said Bill Ismail, a trader at City Index in London. "No one knows the extent of what will happen if unrest spreads to Saudi Arabia. What's for sure is that if there are protests in Saudi, then the events in Egypt and Libya will seem insignificant."
HSBC fell 2.9pc, leading bank shares down. Deutsche Bank downgraded the stock to "hold" from "buy" and UBS cut its rating to "neutral" from "buy" after HSBC reported earnings yesterday.
BNP Paribas, France's biggest bank, dropped 2.6pc and Societe Generale SA retreated 3.4pc
Carnival, the world's biggest cruise-line operator, plunged 5.3pc in London. Chief operating officer Howard Frank sold 180,000 shares according to a filing yesterday.