Business Irish

Monday 19 March 2018

Gentle rise rounds off good week for European stocks

Peter Flanagan

IRISH shares rose slightly yesterday, as traders rounded off the short week with a gentle day of buying.

By the close of the session, the ISEQ Overall Index had gained 0.52pc, or 15.45 points, to close at 3,005.17. Traders bought early and often, with the index peaking at 3,013 before falling back. For the week, the ISEQ gained just under 2pc, having opened on Tuesday at 2,956.

Healthcare companies led the market. United Drug was the biggest gainer on the index, closing up 3.65pc at €2.33. Elan had another good day, gaining 1.51pc to finish at €5.37.

A 1.45pc gain by CRH more or less guaranteed the index would finish the day in the black. There had been suggestions that CRH might benefit from the reconstruction efforts in the southern United States, which has been devastated by storms in recent days.

On the other side of the board, few stocks posted serious losses. The banks had a mixed day, with AIB and Irish Life & Permanent slipping more than 4pc. Bank of Ireland was little changed.

Commodities companies struggled, with Providence Resources dropping 5.49pc, while Ovoca Gold lost 4.79pc.

Elsewhere, European stocks advanced for a seventh day, the longest winning streak this year, as better- than-estimated earnings boosted confidence in the economy.

National benchmark indexes rose in 15 out of the 17 western European markets trading yesterday. Germany's DAX climbed 0.5pc and France's CAC 40 added 0.1pc. UK markets were closed for the royal wedding. The Stoxx Europe 600 Index rose 0.3pc.

"There's still upside pressure to equity prices," said Christian Falkner, of Alpha Wertpapierhandels in Frankfurt. "Good earnings and low interest rates create a very favourable environment for equities."

A report showed consumer spending in the US climbed in March by 0.6pc, said the Commerce department.

A Chinese purchasing managers' index from HSBC and Markit showed manufacturing sustained its expansion this month even as the government raised interest rates and let the yuan strengthen at a faster pace.

Renewable Energy, a Norwegian maker of solar energy components, soared 7.9pc, while Phoenix Solar, a German clean-energy developer, surged 8.2pc. Total, Europe's third-biggest oil producer, agreed to buy as much as 60pc of SunPower, the second-largest US solar-panel maker, for $1.38bn (€910m), to take advantage of increasing global interest in clean energy.

Irish Independent

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