Irish markets buck downward trend
IRISH shares bucked the trend yesterday, inching upwards as markets fell elsewhere in Europe.
By the close in Dublin, the ISEQ Overall Index was up 0.58pc or 22.22 points to end the trading day at 3847.62.
The Dublin market had a mixed day of gains and losses before closing in the black.
The leaders in Dublin included both Allied Irish Banks and Bank of Ireland despite the Government repeating its assertion that the banks must do more to tackle mortgage arrears.
But Bank of Ireland shares were buoyed by an upgrade from Davy Stockbrokers, which now rates the stock "outperform". The bank closed the day up 5.1pc to €0.17 – its highest level in 12 months.
AIB was up 5.9pc to close at €0.07.
Drugs firm Elan was up 4.2pc to €8.96 after it announced that it would start a $1bn 'Dutch auction' repurchase of its stock.
Packaging giant Smurfit Kappa was up 1.25pc to finish the trading day at €12.02.
On the other side of the board, the laggards included bookmakers Paddy Power, which closed 1.8pc down at €65; while shipping and transport group Irish Continental fell 1.5pc to close at €20.20.
Oil exploration company Providence Resources fell 2.5pc to €7.10.
Elsewhere, European stocks fell from a four-and-a-half year high as the markets reacted to Fitch Ratings' downgrade of Italy. China's retail sales and industrial output missed forecasts.
The Stoxx Europe 600 Index slipped 0.1pc at the close of trading. National benchmark indexes fell in 10 of the 18 western European markets.
France's CAC 40 slipped 0.1pc, while the UK's FTSE 100 rose 0.3pc. Germany's DAX was little changed.
Fitch cut Italy's credit rating by one level after the close of equity markets on Friday, as last month's election produced political paralysis that threatens the country's ability to respond to a recession and the European debt crisis.
The rating company lowered Italy's government bond rating to BBB+ from A- with a negative outlook.
"The downgrade in Italy will lead to some nervousness that more intervention will be needed, especially as it is clear that Cyprus also needs a bailout." Felicity Smith, a London-based fund manager at Bedlam Asset Management, said.
"Ultimately, Germany will be the main contributor to the cost of this. I just see the downgrade as a bit of realism returning to the market, rather than a reason to panic."
Storebrand slumped 6.6pc after Norway's second-largest insurer said it must set aside money to meet stricter rules on group pension plans. Bookmakers Ladbrokes jumped the most in 11 months after signing a deal with Playtech to develop its web business.