Thursday 23 February 2017

Investors keep fingers on the 'sell' trigger on Greek fears

Moves to make private shareholders take a bigger haircut on bonds are unsettling

John Mulligan

John Mulligan

Getty Images
Getty Images

Things didn't get off to as good a start yesterday as on Tuesday, and the weak opening set the tone for the rest of the day.

Most markets around Europe stepped into the red amid speculation that some countries want private investors to take bigger haircuts on Greek bonds.

Meanwhile, Angela Merkel -- who has said before that her background as a scientist demands she act only on available data -- is awaiting another report before deciding whether to revise a finance package assembled for Greece during the summer.

It deflated the gains made earlier in the week and the ISEQ was no exception, paring the 3.24pc rise it notched up on Tuesday.

The ISEQ Overall Index shed 0.74pc yesterday, or 18.60 points, to end the day at 2,501.71.

At an investor day in London, Aer Lingus chief executive Christoph Mueller hinted he would prefer to see the Government's 25.1pc stake in the airline sold to an institutional investor rather than another airline.

His management team also outlined new revenue-generating steps being taken in coming months and said while it wouldn't open many new routes over the next few years, new services to Scandinavia could be on the cards. Shares in the airline closed virtually unchanged at just under 65 cent.

Mr Mueller again rejected calls from Ryanair yesterday for the airline to pay a once-off dividend.

Ryanair, which holds its annual general meeting in Dublin this morning, closed down just over 0.5pc at €3.26.

Elsewhere, shares in exploration firm Providence Resources added 4.5pc, or 10 cent, to €2.30. Reporting interim financial results yesterday, chief executive Tony O'Reilly said the firm was poised to transform the country's oil and gas industry.

Other movers yesterday again included convenience food maker Greencore, which gained 5.01pc, or 3.1 cent, to end the session at 65 cent.

Among the stocks that ended yesterday's trading in the red was clinical trials outsourcing firm Icon. It lost nearly 6.5pc, or 83 cent, to finish at €12.05. The stock has dropped about 23pc since the beginning of the month.

Resources firm Kenmare Resources shed 5.6pc, or 2.6 cent, to close at 44 cent. It is back near levels it traded at in August and has fallen 25pc in the past two weeks or so.

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