Rising oil prices stifle ISEQ gains
IRISH shares were little changed yesterday as the rise in oil prices continued to hit most stocks around the world.
By the close of trading in Dublin, the ISEQ Overall Index was up 0.2pc, or 5.77 points, at 2,925.95. The index stayed within 10 points for most of the day, with an early sell-off and an afternoon rally the only moves of note by traders.
As Libya lurched further toward an all-out civil war, oil touched a 29-month high in New York and gold yet again hit an all-time high, as the Middle East unrest remained front and centre.
The higher oil prices hit most stocks, with the construction sector taking another beating. CRH slipped 0.35pc amid fears higher oil prices could slow down the US economy, while inevitably other construction-related stocks also fell.
Readymix tumbled 6.38pc to 22c, while Grafton fell 1.14pc to €3.46.
The higher oil prices also threatened the food sector, with Glanbia, Aryzta and Greencore all closing in negative territory. Glanbia fell 1.13pc to €4.38, while Aryzta slipped 0.26pc. Greencore was down marginally at €1.17.
Aer Lingus was another loser on the day, after reporting lower year-on-year passenger figures during February. The carrier fell 1.16pc to 86c.
Those losses would normally have pushed the index into a loss for the day, but rallies among some major stocks ensured a small gain.
Pharmaceuticals firm Elan added 0.66pc to €4.70, while Allied Irish Banks (AIB) rallied 4.17pc to 25c. A Bulgarian investment company was reported to have bid for AIB's stake in one of the country's banks.
The oil companies, unsurprisingly, had a strong day, with Petroceltic surging 7.14pc. Tullow Oil added 0.23pc to €17.44 amid positive reports from one of its Uganda interests.
Meanwhile, national benchmark indexes retreated in nine of the 18 western European markets. The UK's FTSE 100 fell 0.1pc, Germany's DAX dropped 0.2pc and France's CAC declined 0.7pc. The Stoxx Europe 600 Index slipped 0.3pc.
"Generally positive economic reports have been overshadowed by the increase in oil prices and the situation in the Middle East and Africa," wrote Jean-Paul Jeckelmann, chief investment officer at Banque Bonhote & Cie in Switzerland
Rio Tinto tumbled 2.2pc as a gauge of basic resources companies fell 1.2pc, the lowest of 19 industry groups in the Stoxx 600.
Bulgari rallied 59pc to €12.10. LVMH agreed to purchase the Bulgari family's 50.4pc stake in the third-biggest jeweller for €1.87bn in stock and will then make a tender offer for the rest.
In London, SkyePharma sank 17pc. AstraZeneca said it would stop producing a type of asthma drug developed by the firm because of "complex manufacturing issues".