Shares slide again over Ukraine fears
Escalating fighting in Ukraine coupled with poor results from companies such as Barclays conspired to push European bourses lower yesterday, for a third session in a row.
"Company earnings were mixed today," according to Alessandro Fezzi, a senior market analyst at LGT Bank Schweiz in Zurich. "Despite a good start to the day, Ukraine is still weighing on sentiment, making it difficult to keep a positive market direction." The volume of shares changing hands in Stoxx 600 companies was 18pc lower than the average of the last 30 days.
A report showed retail sales in the euro area climbed 0.3pc in March from the previous month, compared with a revised 0.1pc gain in February. The median economist forecast called for a 0.2pc drop.
In Ireland, the ISEQ Overall Index slipped 0.47pc, or 22.95 points to close at 4,904.38. Despite some significant gainers, the index was dragged down by shares in Bank of Ireland (BoI) and Ryanair. BoI shed 3.5pc to finish the day at 27.4 cent, while Ryanair lost 2.2pc, or 15 cent, to end the day at €6.76. The airline reported that it carried a record 82 million passengers in the 12 months the end of April.
During April, its passenger numbers rose 5pc to 7.8 million as it benefited from a later Easter. Shares in the airline were downgraded by one broker on Monday, however. Shares in Smurfit Kappa climbed 2.2pc, or 36 cent to €16.36. Some brokers have reckoned recent weakness in its shares has been overdone. Aer Lingus added 1.6pc to €1.57. National benchmark indices fell in 12 of the 18 western-European markets yesterday. France's CAC 40 slid 0.8pc and Germany's DAX dropped 0.7pc. The UK's FTSE 100 fell 0.4pc.
Barclays lost 5.2pc to £2.45 (€2.98). Britain's second-biggest bank said quarterly pretax profit, excluding swings in the valuation of the lender's debt, dropped to £1.69bn from £1.79bn in the year-earlier period. That missed estimates.