Irish shares up as Ryanair posts better-than-expected profit forecast
IRISH shares have gained, buoyed by Ryanair's better-than-expected profit forecast for the airline's financial year.
National benchmark indexes climbed in all 18 western European markets, except Greece. The ISEQ rose 0.4pc to close at 2987.92 while France's CAC 40 added 0.4pc, Germany's DAX increased 0.7pc and the UK's FTSE 100 rose 0.9pc.
Top of the heavyweight's leaderboard was Ryanair, which closed up 6.7pc in Dublin at 3.57 after the no-frills airline increased its profit forecast for its full financial year to the end of March to €275m, and reported a smaller-than-expected loss of €10.9m for the three months to the end of December. Sales over the three months rose by 1pc to €612m. Aer Lingus jumped 4.6pc to 69c on the back of the results.
It was a different story for the country's banks, which once again posted declines after media reports that the Government's plans for the National Asset Management Agency won't get the green light from the European Commission on schedule. Reports that the Government intends to force the lenders to be more lenient towards mortgage holders also weighed on shares.
"This proposal to help out people in difficulty isn't good," one Dublin-based trader said. "The Government . . . is putting pressure on the banks." Shares in Allied Irish Banks fell 5.5pc to €1.22 while shares in Bank of Ireland were down 4.5pc at €1.26.
While the Irish market had to rely on Ryanair for momentum, stock markets elsewhere benefited from news that manufacturing appears to be expanding in most countries.
The Dow Jones Stoxx 600 Index gained 0.6pc in late afternoon trading in London, after earlier falling as much as 0.8pc.
UK-based Northumbrian Water jumped 12pc, the biggest gain since they started trading in London in May 2003. The 'Sunday Times' reported that the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan may bid £1.7bn (€2bn) for the utility. France-based Veolia Environnement, the world's biggest water company, surged 2.7pc.
Lanxess climbed 3.8pc as Germany's biggest publicly traded specialty chemicals maker said business would improve this year and it was interested in making acquisitions.
Barratt Developments led a rally in UK homebuilders after Deutsche Bank said the industry's shares may increase 35pc this year on improved balance sheets and the prospect of higher profit margins. Barratt climbed 3.7pc while Persimmon added 2.3pc.