ISEQ falls but outperforms peers
IRISH shares were almost unchanged overall as declines in home builder McInerney Holdings and clinical-trials company Icon offset gains in Merrion Pharmaceuticals, United Drug and PetroNeft Resources.
The ISEQ closed down less than one point at 2910.75 yesterday. But it outperformed around two-thirds of the 18 bourses across Europe as concern mounted that today's report on US gross domestic product may show that growth had slowed in the world's largest economy.
In Dublin, the biggest fallers included McInerney Holdings, which slipped 7.8pc to 5c after new figures suggested that house prices had fallen to 2002 levels. Icon was down 7.6pc at €17.75, following disappointing forecasts earlier this week for its full-year results.
PetroNeft gained 6.5pc to 56c, after it said it would begin extracting oil in Siberia.
Merrion Pharmaceuticals rose the most in almost six weeks' trading after its Citywest facility was granted a licence to manufacture by the Irish Medicines Board.
Meanwhile, United Drug advanced 1.3pc to €2.42 after saying it expected pre-tax profit for the year to September 30 to be "broadly in line" with the prior year, excluding currency fluctuations.
Elsewhere in Europe, the Stoxx Europe 600 Index closed down 0.4pc, erasing gains in the last hour of trading. The gauge has declined 5.8pc from this year's high on April 15.
"With US GDP data due out tomorrow, a more cautious tone has prevailed," said David Jones, London-based chief market strategist at IG Index.
"The strength of economic recovery is still something of a hot potato for investors, so it's not surprising that plenty are deciding to stay out of the market until this release is out of the way."
The Federal Reserve said on Wednesday in its Beige Book business survey that US economic growth had slackened in some areas, dragged down by commercial real estate and the expiration of a tax credit for homebuyers.
Nestle, which makes Kit Kats, and the washing-powder company Unilever both slid more than 1.5pc after US rivals Kellogg and Colgate-Palmolive reported revenue that missed estimates. Vallourec dropped 3.1pc after saying a recovery in the steel industry would slow.
Telefonica, which sells mobile phones here under the O2 brand, and Cap Gemini, Europe's largest computer-services company, gained more than 3pc on increased earnings.
Statoil dropped 4.1pc as Norway's largest oil and gas company cut its production forecast for 2012 and reported profit that missed estimates.
Puma fell 6.1pc as Europe's second-largest sporting-goods maker posted earnings that missed estimates. It cancelled a forecast for pretax profits.