Banks lead the rise in Irish shares
IRISH stocks advanced, led higher by financial services companies and Kenmare which hinted that it will begin paying a dividend soon.
The ISEQ Overall Index closed up 18.07, or 0.5pc, at 3,865.69 points which was just 20 points shy of the benchmark's four-year high.
Among the gainers were Permanent TSB which climbed 25pc to 5 cents on news that the Government wants banks to cut salaries.
The country's largest mortgage company is also expected to benefit from changes in the rule on home repossessions which are due to be announced this morning.
Allied Irish Banks closed up 4.2pc at 8 cents, while Bank of Ireland advanced 1.8pc at 17 cents.
Kenmare Resources jumped 8.7pc at 39 cents as profit after tax doubled and the miner said it was preparing to start paying a dividend.
Tiny games maker Zamano was the biggest mover, soaring 83pc to 11 cents as the company's operating profits swung from a loss of €328,000 in 2011 to a profit of €2.05m last year.
Food company Aryzta was down 1.3pc at €42.55 following Tuesday's first-half earnings, while rival Glanbia shed 0.6pc to close at €8.50 ahead of today's earnings.
Elsewhere in Europe stocks were little changed, with the Stoxx Europe 600 Index closing near its highest level in four-and-a-half years.
National benchmark indexes advanced in 10 of the 18 western-European markets. France's CAC 40 and the UK's FTSE 100 rose 0.1pc. Germany's DAX fell 0.2pc.
Antofagasta climbed to its highest price in a month after the copper producer more than doubled its dividend from a year earlier.
St James's Place shares dropped the most in eight months after Lloyds reduced its stake in the wealth manager. Tyre maker Pirelli fell after forecasting earnings for 2013 that fell short of analysts' estimates.
"We're getting more cautious about this top of the equity market, and we're beginning to think maybe you should take some risk off the table," said Philippe Bonnefoy, an investment officer at Newscape Capital.
Fraport dropped 4pc, its biggest decline in 10 months. The owner of Frankfurt airport forecast earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation in 2013 that fell short of analysts' estimates.
Fraport also closed Frankfurt airport, which is the third largest in Europe, because of snow.
Geberit slipped 1.9pc after the Swiss toilet maker predicted that construction will probably contract in Europe in 2013 as governments cut spending. The company depends on the region for over 90pc of its sales.