Smurfit and Dragon lift market mood
THE ISEQ closed little changed as declines in airlines were offset by positive news for companies such as Smurfit Kappa and Dragon Oil.
The ISEQ overall index closed down 10.47 points at 3,327.22 points. The decline was mirrored all over western Europe where national benchmark indexes fell in all 18 markets yesterday, except Iceland. Germany's DAX and the UK's FTSE 100 both lost 0.3pc, while France's CAC 40 slipped 0.4pc.
Markets elsewhere in Europe fell as Britain and Germany signaled probes into Goldman Sachs, and volcanic ash from Iceland kept much of Europe's airspace closed for a fifth day.
Aer Lingus and Ryanair were among the biggest losers in Dublin with the former falling 4pc to 72 cents and the latter declining 3.1pc to 3.77 as the eruption of the Eyjafjallajokull volcano forced planes to stay grounded.
Smurfit Kappa rose 1pc to €6.81 after the paper maker agreed an asset swap deal with the Mondi Group. Smurfit will buy Mondi's UK corrugated operations, while Mondi will buy Smurfit's sack converting operations in western Europe.
Elan rose 0.5pc to €5.71 after it said it has renewed plans to spin off its drug technologies business into a separate listed company.
Dragon Oil rose 3.3pc to €5.22 after it announced the successful completion and initial testing of a development and appraisal well.
FBD rose 0.8pc to €7.60. The shares have surged since rival Quinn Insurance ran into problems with the regulator, prompting hopes that FBD will write new business with Quinn policy holders.
Elsewhere in Europe, the Stoxx Europe 600 Index fell 0.7pc to 266.13, the lowest close this month.
Switzerland-based UBS slid 2pc as Goldman Sachs' legal woes spurred concern that the fallout from the financial crisis isn't over. Greece's ASE Index dropped 2.6pc and credit-default swaps on the nation's government bonds rose to a record after talks on its debt crisis were delayed.
"Goldman's news clearly isn't positive and does cast a cloud over investment banking," said London-based Kevin Lilley, who helps oversee about $2bn at Royal London Asset Management. "The market was looking a little overbought so it doesn't take a lot" for investors to find an excuse to sell, he said.
European stocks pared their losses as Citigroup posted better-than-estimated earnings and the index of US leading indicators rose in March by the most in 10 months. The 1.4pc increase in the New York-based Conference Board's measure of the economic outlook was more than anticipated and followed a revised 0.4pc gain in February.
Air France, Europe's largest airline, plummeted 2.9pc while Deutsche Lufthansa fell 2.6pc as aircraft remained grounded.