IRISH shares treaded water once again yesterday as many traders closed their books for the year.
The ISEQ closed down just 1.1 points at 3,327.69 points after trading within a very narrow band that saw the benchmark hardly move during the day.
The index has fallen by minuscule amounts for the past four days but still managed to close down just 20 points lower than it was on Monday morning.
Among the losers were FBD insurance, which declined 2pc to €10, and Smurfit Kappa, which ended the session down 1.6pc at €9.40. Glanbia slipped 1.2pc at €7.62.
Traders noted all three stocks were among the best performers this year and blamed the small falls on profit taking. Among the winners were Independent News & Media, which advanced 10pc to 4.4 cent, Kenmare, which closed up 2.2pc at 38 cent and Dragon Oil, which rose 2.1pc to €4.83. Ryanair and Aer Lingus also put in small gains on a lacklustre day.
Davy stockbrokers noted that the Stock Exchange has published updated free floats following its regular quarterly review.
The changes will be applied after close of business next Friday. Nineteen companies will see upward revisions to their free float with 11 down and 16 remaining the same. The impact will be small, Davy said.
Datalex, First Derivatives, Glanbia and Smurfit Kappa will also have a larger percentage of shares available to investors.
Abbey and Petroceltic will have smaller numbers of shares in play.
European stocks also closed little changed as investors watched US lawmakers debate a new budget agreement to avoid automatic tax increases and spending cuts in the world's largest economy.
"Market sentiment is likely to be shaped entirely by the US fiscal cliff negotiations," said Nicholas Spiro, managing director of Spiro Sovereign Strategy in London.
"With just 17 days to go before the automatic spending cuts and tax increases kick in, a deal still appears elusive, making it likely that the last two full trading weeks of 2012 will be nail-biting ones."
The Stoxx 600 yesterday fell for the first time this month yesterday as Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke said he didn't have the tools to offset the impact of automatic deficit-reduction measures – called the fiscal cliff – that will come into effect next year if the US Congress fails to reach a deal.