Sunday 24 September 2017

European stocks reach six-year high

Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi
Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi

European stocks rose to their highest level since 2008 yesterday as Italian banks surged after Prime Minister Matteo Renzi's party beat a populist challenger in European Parliament elections.

But with US markets closed for Memorial Day and UK markets shut for a bank holiday, overall activity was more subdued.

In Ireland, the main focus was on unemployment figures, with the rate falling at a slower-than-expected pace in the first quarter of the year. The unemployment rate stood at 12pc at the end of March compared to the 11.8pc rate that was anticipated.

A gauge of European banks posted the second-best performance on the Stoxx 600, with Italian lenders including UniCredit leading gains. Atos added 5.9pc after the French computer-services supplier offered to buy rival Bull for about €620m.

The Stoxx Europe 600 Index climbed 0.5pc to 343.59. The benchmark gauge has risen 8.2pc from this year's low on February 4 amid increased mergers-and-acquisitions activity and as ECB President Mario Draghi said policy makers were ready to ease monetary policy if necessary.

Benedict Goette, chief executive officer of Compass Capital in Zurich, said: "European stocks are pushing higher on the back of investors' anticipation that the ECB will have to announce stimulus measures at their June 5 meeting."

In Ireland, the ISEQ Overall Index ended yesterday's session 39.09 points, or 0.81pc, higher at 4,875.47. While the index is up 20pc this year, it's still a distance off the 5,195 yearly high it hit on February 28.

Irish Residential Properties Reit gained 5pc, or 5 cent, to finish at €1.04, while Bank of Ireland added 1.8pc to close at 28.3 cent. CRH rose 2.5pc, or 50 cent, to €20.60, while Kerry Group gained 1.7pc, or 95 cent, to end the day at €55.25.

National benchmark indices advanced in 15 of the 17 western-European markets open yesterday. France's CAC 40 added 0.6pc and Germany's DAX rose 1.2pc.

Irish Independent

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