Irish shares slip in weak volumes as market waits for promissory deal
IRISH shares fell yesterday as traders waited for word on whether the country could get a deal on the promissory note by the end of March.
By the close in Dublin, the ISEQ Overall Index had fallen 0.4pc, or 13.32 points, to close at 3,342.48.
Volumes were down almost two-thirds on the start of the week, as more than twice as many shares fell as rose.
The index held steady until lunchtime, but trailed off quite sharply in the afternoon as sellers moved in from the US.
Finance Minster Michael Noonan, at a meeting of his EU counterparts in Brussels, said it was "likely" the country would get a deal on the promissory note before the next payment is due in three months' time.
Elan fell 1.6pc to €7.92. Shareholders in the pharmaceuticals firm agreed a plan to spin off part of its business at an extraordinary general meeting yesterday.
Commodity stocks had a rough day. In percentage terms Fastnet Oil & Gas was the big faller, dropping 13.8pc to 25c.
Ormonde Mining dipped 12.9pc, while oil explorer Petroceltic fell 7.8pc.
And Providence Resources dropped 7.1pc, albeit on light volume.
On the positive side of the board the big winner was IFG. The financial services group surged 5.1pc to €1.45.
Elsewhere, European stocks closed little changed as investors waited for the Federal Reserve to announce its decisions on interest rates and economic stimulus, while American lawmakers continued talks on a new budget.
The Stoxx Europe 600 Index rose less than 0.1pc, while national benchmark indices advanced in 12 of the 18 western European markets.
The UK's FTSE 100 gained 0.4pc, while France's CAC 40 was little changed. Germany's DAX rose 0.3pc.
"The Federal Reserve has a commitment, both to try to stabilise inflation and get unemployment back down," said Stephen King, chief economist at HSBC in London.
"In the absence of anything else, more quantitative easing is the inevitable consequence we'll see later today.
"It's not so much the idea of getting roaring growth coming back, it's more about preventing another dip in the economy."
After markets closed, the Fed announced a fresh round of bond buying to try to boost growth in the US economy.
French carmaker Peugeot jumped 10pc after it was reported that Algeria may take a stake in Europe's second-largest carmaker.
President Francois Hollande's envoy Jean-Pierre Raffarin discussed a possible investment when he visited the North African country in November, the paper said.
Wacker Chemie, the second-biggest maker of solar-grade silicon, surged 12pc. China's ministry of science and technology announced a second round of solar subsidies for this year, identifying projects with 2.8 gigawatts of power as eligible for state aid.