IRELAND'S Overall ISEQ Index jumped to its highest level since October 2008 as optimism prevailed after the country struck a deal that will lessen its financial burden in the coming years.
Investor confidence was evident throughout Europe yesterday as China said that its exports soared 25pc in January compared to the corresponding month in 2011.
Economists had predicted a 17.5pc rise. Imports rose 28.8pc compared with an expected 23.5pc among economists.
EU leaders also reached a landmark agreement on the region's budget following marathon talks. The budget – which extends to the end of the decade – had been cut for the first time in its history.
A flurry of positive earnings news from the United States also buoyed markets. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index hit its highest level since November 2007 as data also showed that the US trade deficit contracted more than had been expected.
"The improvement in China's data is a positive for European equities," said Richard Scrope, who helps manage £100m as fund manager at Oriel Asset Management in London.
"The European Union's decision to cut the budget is a prudent one. A prioritisation of where money should be spent is better than simply increasing spending on everything."
In Ireland, the Overall ISEQ Index was lifted 1.38pc, or 49.11 points, to enter the weekend at 3,606.24. The last time it closed above that level was on October 3, 2008, when it was at 3,943. By the end of that year it had hit 2,343.
Stocks on the move again included those that had been to the fore of corporate activity during the week. CRH added 2.51pc. or 38.5 cent, to close at €15.72.
Aer Lingus advanced 5.7pc, or 7.4 cent, to €1.37 on the back of its strong full-year results this week. That's more than the €1.30 that Ryanair has offered for the shares and indicates investors anticipate Ryanair will have to raise its bid for the carrier.
Shares in DCC, which earlier this week said it was considering shifting its listing to London, advanced 2pc, or 53 cent, to €27.04.
Decliners included mining firm Kenmare Resources, which fell 2.9pc to 44 cent, while in London food group Greencore fell 2pc to £1.10.
National benchmark indices advanced in all of the 18 western European markets except Greece. The UK's FTSE 100 gained 0.6pc, France's CAC 40 rose 1.4pc and Germany's DAX added 0.8pc.