Regulator's remarks boost shares
IRISH shares gained, bucking the trend elsewhere in Europe as benchmark heavyweight CRH advanced after its bonds were upgraded and banks rose following a speech by the new regulator.
The ISEQ closed up 15.03 points, or 0.5pc, to 3023.73 points. Elsewhere in western Europe, national benchmark indices dropped in 15 of the 18 markets. The UK's FTSE 100 and France's CAC 40 fell 0.4pc. Germany's DAX declined 0.1pc.
CRH advanced 0.6pc to €17.95 after rating agency Standard & Poor's raised CRH's outlook to "stable" from "negative".
Bank of Ireland and Irish Life & Permanent both gained more than 3pc while Allied Irish Banks rose 2.2pc after financial regulator Matthew Elderfield said a "robust" recapitalisation of the country's banks will help improve their standing among international investors. The "immediate priority" in the coming weeks is to complete work necessary to recapitalise the country's banking industry, Mr Elderfield said in a speech yesterday.
The biggest percentage fall came from First Derivatives which plunged 8.6pc to €2.65 after it said full-year profit will be in line with expectations.
Origin Enterprises was down 4pc at €2.15 after the agri-business company posted a decline in profit and sales.
European stocks declined from a seven-week high as US jobless claims fell less than forecast and basic-resource producers retreated on speculation rising inflation will prompt China to pare back stimulus measures.
BHP Billiton, the world's largest mining company, slid 2.4pc as Chinese inflation reached a 16-month high.
Lagardere slumped the most in a year after France's biggest publisher reported earnings that missed estimates.
Car shares limited the retreat as Volkswagen rallied 8.4pc after saying two-month sales at its seven car brands and its van division surged 27pc, outpacing a 20pc increase in the global market in the period.
VW also said it will seek shareholders' approval in April to raise as much as €5bn in the sale of convertible bonds.
"Data on the labour market are in focus at the moment and the market reacts sceptically to anything that is not significantly above expectations," said Gerold Kuehne from LLB Asset Management in Liechtenstein. "The continuing claims were higher than the market had hoped for. That was disappointing."
GEA Group, whose machines milk a third of the world's dairy cows, posted the biggest gain in the Stoxx 600. The company surged 8.1pc, the most since July, after saying full-year net income rose 60pc to €161.7m and predicting higher order intake for this year and a "stabilisation" of sales.