Saturday 25 March 2017

Irish shares drop again as prices hit by trade jitters in eurozone

Peter Flanagan

Peter Flanagan

IRISH shares fell again yesterday, as poor economic data from Europe renewed fears for the continent's economy.

By the close of trading the ISEQ Overall Index had slid 0.53pc, or 16.88 points, to 3,166.84.

That was the second straight daily loss for the index but the market is still up more than 25pc since November 23 last year.

A composite purchasing managers' index, which combines data from the services and manufacturing industries in the eurozone, unexpectedly fell in February to 49.7 from 50.4 a month earlier. Below 50 indicates contraction.

The ISEQ index trended up initially, touching 3,190 in early trading, before falling back.

The financial sector paced declines on the ISEQ. Irish Life & Permanent plunged 11.76pc, while Bank of Ireland slumped 6.76pc. Allied Irish Banks dipped 0.75pc to 13c.

A report from Deutsche Bank said the ECB was "unlikely" to continue its long-term bank refinancing operation (LTRO). Kenmare Resources lost 6.58pc to reach 68c after the miner, which has been the subject of takeover speculation, had its rating cut to "hold" from "buy" at wealth management firm Canaccord Genuity.

Few stocks ended in positive territory but the oil and gas sector posted another solid day, as oil surged to $122.60 a barrel. That is the highest price since before the collapse of Lehmann Brothers and the crisis of September 2008.

Siberia focused driller Petroneft added 9.09pc while Providence Resources added 6.35pc to reach €3.35. Dubai based Dragon Oil shook off Tuesday's decline to close 3.32pc higher at €6.82.

Elsewhere, the lacklustre PMI data saw shares lower, pushing all western European markets into a loss, except for Norway.

The UK's FTSE 100 closed 0.2pc lower, while France's CAC 40 fell 0.52pc. Germany's DAX slid 0.93pc while the benchmark Stoxx Europe 600 Index fell 0.8pc.

"Given that Europe is still shrouded by the cloud of recession, a weak PMI -- though not rain on the parade -- will surely damp investor sentiment," said Manish Singh, the London-based head of investment at Crossbridge Capital. Cove Energy rallied 26pc to its highest level since at least May 2005. Shell , Europe's biggest oil company, has offered to buy the explorer. Peugeot surged 12pc, the most since April 2009. The company, which last week reported a slump in profit and an increase in debt, is in talks on a possible alliance with General Motors.

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