Kenmare leads advance in shares
IRISH shares gained in tandem with equities across Europe which advanced to a 27-month high as euro-area finance ministers agreed to strengthen the region's rescue fund, spurring confidence in a recovery from the sovereign-debt crisis.
The benchmark ISEQ Overall Index rose 18.76 points, or 0.6pc, to 2,932.19 points as the banks and Kenmare Resources posted gains.
Kenmare soared 16.2pc to 40c amid hopes that figures from Rio Tinto yesterday indicate strong demand for titanium dioxide. Davy Stockbrokers said demand was unlikely to abate "for the foreseeable future" due to constraints in the supply chain.
Bank of Ireland jumped 8pc to 36c as European banking shares posted the second-best performance among 19 industry groups listed on the Stoxx Europe 600 Index.
Irish Life advanced 3.9pc as the country's largest mortgage lender said the decline in house prices accelerated in the fourth quarter and the property slump was likely to extend into this year as the market remained "subdued".
"With low transaction volumes, continuing price declines and a sluggish economy, the outlook is for a very subdued property market in 2011," Niall O'Grady, general manager of Irish Life's retail unit, said.
Grafton added 2.6pc to €3.72 after London-based securities firm Collins Stewart said the building materials company may become a "tasty" merger and acquisition target.
Grafton was among 18 potential takeover targets under Collins Stewart's Quest equity research tool.
European stocks rose to a two-year high as euro-area finance ministers pledged to strengthen the safety net for the region's indebted countries.
Daimler rose 2.8pc as the luxury carmaker was upgraded at Morgan Stanley.
SABMiller gained 1.7pc after reporting third-quarter sales that beat analysts' estimates. Burberry jumped 5.3pc as the coat maker reported that three-month sales rose 27pc and it said adjusted full-year profit would exceed its previous forecast.
National benchmark indexes rose in all 18 western European markets except Greece and Iceland. France's CAC 40 Index gained 0.9pc, as did Germany's DAX Index, while the UK's FTSE 100 Index surged 1.2pc.
"I'm convinced we're going to see a good year for equities," said Matthias Jasper, head of equities at WGZ Bank in Dusseldorf. "The consensus seems to be that we won't see an escalation of the sovereign-debt crisis. Earnings will be higher again."
Axel Springer gained 4.1pc, its highest close since 2007. The German publisher boosted its bid for Seloger.com by 12pc, agreeing to buy the French property website for €634m.