Gains in stock overshadow declines
IRISH shares advanced as declines in CRH and Paddy Power following disappointing results were overshadowed by gains in financial services stocks.
The ISEQ closed up 34.49 points, or 1.2pc, at 2932.67 points as 22 stocks rose, eight fell and 26 closed unchanged. National benchmark indexes gained in all the other 17 western European markets except Iceland. France's CAC 40 and Germany's DAX rose 1.1pc. The UK's FTSE 100 climbed 1.5pc.
Allied Irish rose 2pc to €1.01 despite reporting the first full-year loss in its history. As expected, the bank reported a pre-tax loss of €2.66bn for 2009. Bank of Ireland was up 3.9pc at €1.01 while Irish Life & Permanent, which reports results today, soared 8.9pc to €2.96.
Shares in CRH, the biggest stock on the index, fell 0.2pc to €16.85 after the building materials company said pre-tax profits fell 55pc to €732m. Paddy Power slid 3.1pc to €23.76 after pre-tax profit fell 15pc to €67.2m as the company miscalculated odds on sporting events.
Merrion Pharmaceuticals was the biggest gainer, jumping 11pc after saying it had filed for a new patent in the US. Zamano, which develops applications and games for mobile phones, tumbled 18pc after sales fell by around a third. Kingspan extended yesterday's advances, rising 4.5pc to €5.80.
The Stoxx Europe 600 Index rose to a one-month high, led by carmakers and airlines, as Greece said it would announce new deficit-cutting measures, increasing speculation that a solution to its debt crisis is near.
National Bank of Greece rallied 3.5pc to €14.90. Peugeot Citroen, Europe's second-largest carmaker, surged 3.4pc to €20.20. Deutsche Lufthansa led airlines higher after reporting a narrower-than-expected loss.
"Cyclical stocks are climbing and if investors are turning to those shares, it means a rebound may be on the way," said Arnaud Scarpaci, a fund manager at Agilis Gestion in Paris. "The main worries about Greece are already priced into the stock market."
BMW, the world's largest maker of luxury cars, soared 2.9pc to €31.34 after the company said at the Geneva motor show that deliveries rose about 14pc in February.
Lufthansa jumped 3.6pc to €11.50 after Europe's second-biggest airline reported a full-year net loss of €112m, less than the €273m average loss estimate compiled by Bloomberg from seven analysts.
Persimmon surged 5.9pc to £4.24 after the UK's third-largest homebuilder reported a full-year profit on an improving housing market.
Prudential extended yesterday's declines, closing down 8pc at £4.87. The UK's biggest insurer fell 12pc the previous day after agreeing to buy an Asian division from AIG. Pru's credit ratings may be downgraded by S&P after agreeing to buy AIA for $35.5bn in cash and stock.