Irish Life sale buoys Irish shares as European markets forge ahead
IRISH shares rose yesterday as the Government sold off Irish Life in a €1.3bn deal.
By the close in Dublin, the ISEQ Overall Index was up 0.63pc, or 23.24 points, to finish the day at 3689.09.
The Dublin index enjoyed a positive day, largely rising on opening amid news that the Government was selling off the life assurance, pensions and investment management company to Canadian life insurer Great-West Lifeco.
Finance Minister Michael Noonan also said that the Government's next step was to look at the State's holdings in Bank of Ireland and AIB.
The leaders in the Dublin market included insurance company FBD, which was up 2.4pc to close at €12.80, while food ingredients company Kerry Group increased 1.9pc to €41.
Bookmakers Paddy Power continued with another strong day, with its share price up by 1.8pc to €66.25.
The laggards included Irish financial services group IFG, which slipped 2.1pc to €1.42 and oil exploration and production outfit Dragon Oil, which dipped 0.8pc to €6.85.
Tropical fruit supplier Fyffes was down 3.3pc to €0.59, while Irish aggregates giant CRH was down 0.4pc to €16.10.
Elsewhere, European stocks rose to the highest level in three weeks as German economic sentiment improved more than forecast and the world's largest yoghurt maker Danone rallied after reporting earnings.
The Stoxx Europe 600 Index advanced 1.1pc at the close, erasing a 0.5pc loss over the previous three days.
National benchmark indexes advanced in all 18 western European markets, except Iceland.
Germany's DAX jumped 1.6pc and France's CAC 40 surged 1.9pc. The UK's FTSE 100 climbed 1pc to a five-year high.
Danone "was a mainly positive report", said Espen Furnes, fund manager at Storebrand Asset Management in Oslo.
"We expect the European economy to pick up somewhat during 2013 which, combined with decent growth from other regions, means there still is material upside in European stocks in the longer term."
Danone jumped 5.9pc to €53.15 as it said it plans to cut 900 jobs in Europe after 2012 profitability declined on weak consumption in southern Europe. Fourth-quarter net income from continuing operations rose to €1.82bn.
Drax, operator of the UK's largest coal-fired power station, advanced 6.1pc. Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation fell to £298m (€343m) in 2012.
Healthcare company Bayer rose €2.50 to €71.79 after saying it began a Phase-3 trial of the Eylea injection, along with Regeneron Pharmaceuticals.