Monday 19 February 2018

Fears for euro weigh heavily on market confidence


John Mulligan

THE end is nigh. Again. With France and Germany warning that any inability of Italy to handle its debt mountain would almost certainly lead to the implosion of the euro and the great European project, markets were understandably edgy.

But there was still a chink of light and investors reacted positively to news that policy-makers might ditch "private sector involvement" -- thinly veiled code for burning banks and insurance companies -- as part of their plans for a permanent bailout mechanism slated to come on stream in 2013.

That sent markets higher in later trading, although gains in the US later eased as it emerged that Greece may force private investors to take bigger hits on their sovereign debt holdings.

The ISEQ Overall Index did not fare as well as its European counterparts, however. It ended yesterday's session just 0.17pc, or 4.18 points higher at 2,516.84. The ISEQ had been trading below the 2,500 mark around midday.

Significant movers on the exchange included recruitment firm CPL Resources, which advanced 7.55pc, or 20 cent, to close at €2.85.

It was buoyed by a strong trading statement from UK-based recruitment group Harvey Nash, which said that it had continued to grow revenue and profit. It boosted its interim dividend by 10pc.

Dairy group Glanbia gained almost 4.5pc, or 20 cent, to close at €4.65. Earlier this month the company predicted that earnings would grow 20pc in the current financial year.

Fallers included mining firm Kenmare Resources, which shed 3.83pc, or 1.5 cent to finish at 37.7 cent. The stock has now nearly halved since hitting 71 cent in July.

Stocks rose on most European markets. The UK's FTSE 100 gained 0.72pc to close at 5,164.65. France's CAC-40 added 1.23pc to 2,856.97, while Germany's DAX advanced 1.19pc to 5,492.87.

However, concerns about the euro weighed on sentiment.

"The crisis is no longer about an individual country's debt issues. It's about confidence in the euro itself," said Frank Velling, chief strategist at BankInvest Asset Management in Copenhagen.

The cost of insuring against default on European financial company debt rose to a record, according to traders of credit- default swaps.

A gauge of oil companies led the rebound in the Stoxx 600 as oil advanced in New York.

Insurer AXA jumped 1.7pc to €8.85 after Goldman Sachs upgraded the shares to "conviction buy" from "neutral".

Irish Independent

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