Europe's stocks steady to cap best weekly gain since December
European stocks closed little changed, paring earlier losses, as banks rallied and French shares climbed after polls showed anti-euro candidate Marine Le Pen lagging rival Emmanuel Macron for the first time.
By the close of business, the ISEQ Overall Index was down 0.04pc or 2.35 points to end the trading week at 6,672.08.
The leaders on the Dublin index included building materials group CRH, which rose 1pc to €33.44, while insurance group FBD increased 0.6pc to €7.90. On the other side of the board, the laggards included Paddy Power Betfair, which dropped 2.4pc to €101.45, while insulation group Kingspan dropped 1.1pc to €29.27.
Elsewhere, the Stoxx Europe 600 Index dropped 0.1pc at the close, after earlier sliding as much as 0.5pc. France's CAC 40 Index climbed 0.6pc to close at its highest level since August 2015.
Investors are also awaiting a speech by Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen after European markets close, following hawkish comments by her colleagues earlier this week that boosted bets for a March rate hike.
Banks have been the biggest beneficiaries of that speculation, leading gains among industry groups and helping send the Stoxx 600 to its best weekly advance this year.
"The US remains the key driver of markets right now. Such has been the turnaround in expectations, that a rate move looks more or less a done deal," Michael Hewson, market analyst at CMC Markets in London, wrote in a note.
Traders are pricing in a 92pc chance of a rate increase when the Fed announces its decision on March 15, up from 40pc just a week ago, Fed fund futures show.
Among shares active on corporate news, Berendsen slumped 11pc after the provider of industrial laundry services forecast 2017 operating profit below estimates.
Additional reporting by Bloomberg