Irish shares hit eight-month high with airlines on the up
IRISH shares gained yesterday, hitting an eight-month high, as Elan and Providence Resources advanced after saying they trimmed full-year losses in 2009.
The ISEQ closed up 38.81 points, or 1.2pc, to 3409.19 points. National benchmark indexes fell in 15 of the 18 western European markets. Greece's ASE Index slid 1.3pc, Portugal's PSI-20 sank 2.2pc and Spain's IBEX 35 dropped 2pc.
Elan advanced 1.9pc to €5.70 after the Irish drugmaker said its first-quarter net loss narrowed to $2m (€1.5m) from $102.6m a year earlier while Providence Resources closed up 2.4pc at 4.3c after it said net losses narrowed to €9.8m compared with a loss of €51.2m the prior year.
Airlines gained as their planes returned to the skies with Aer Lingus rising 2pc to 71c and Ryanair advancing 1.8pc to €3.90. Petroceltic jumped 12pc to 17c after an egm while Datalex rose 7.7pc to 14c after its agm.
The banks suffered another bad day with Irish Life & Permanent tumbling 6.5pc to €3.25 while Allied Irish Banks slipped 3.1pc to €1.55 and Bank of Ireland fell 1.5pc to €1.82. Financial Regulator Matthew Elderfield said it would take "some time" for banks to "recalibrate" away from a reliance on wholesale funding.
Elsewhere in Europe, the Stoxx Europe 600 Index slid 0.5pc as Greece began talks on activating a €45bn emergency aid package as the International Monetary Fund called the country's fiscal crisis a "wake-up call" on sovereign-debt risks.
The government needs to raise about €10bn before the end of May, and its soaring financing costs are lending urgency to the talks
Alpha Bank, Greece's third-largest lender, Banco Santander and Banco Espirito Santo all dropped more than 2.8pc as credit-default swaps on the nations' debt gained.
"There are still deficit concerns to digest and issues with financial companies," said Andrea Williams at Royal London Asset Management. "Investors have to be selective."
The IMF also expressed concerns about the continent's problems. "The main risk is that, if unchecked, market concerns about sovereign liquidity and solvency in Greece could turn into a full-blown sovereign debt crisis, leading to some contagion," the IMF said in its World Economic Outlook.
"This reinforces the importance of efforts by Greek authorities to re-establish the credibility of their fiscal policy."
Vedanta led mining shares lower as copper, lead and nickel declined on the London Metal Exchange. The largest copper producer in India retreated 2.5pc while Xstrata lost 3.3pc. BHP Billiton, which yesterday said it found evidence of possible breaches of anti-corruption laws, declined 2.6pc.
Denmark's Oriflame Cosmetics sank 13pc, the steepest decline since May 2006, after the cosmetics maker reported first-quarter sales and pretax profit that fell short of analysts' estimates.
European technology shares rallied as Apple and Japan's Elpida Memory reported earnings that topped estimates. Infineon Technologies, Europe's second-biggest chipmaker, climbed 4.4pc. Arm Holdings, the UK designer of semiconductors used by Apple, surged 3.4pc.
Volkswagen's preferred shares climbed 4.1pc after Europe's largest carmaker said first-quarter profit almost doubled to €473m as sales in China and the Audi luxury brand jumped to records. Fiat rose 3pc, extending yesterday's 9.3pc advance, after the Italian automaker said it expected to complete the spinoff of its industrial units by the end of the year.
Tesco, Britain's biggest retailer, rose 1.6pc after the shares were raised to "hold" from "sell" at Societe Generale.