Iseq up as banking stocks put in strong performance
The Iseq overall index of Irish shares was trading up 0.72pc or 47.92 points in late afternoon on Wednesday.
Banking shares were the biggest gainers of the day, with Bank of Ireland and AIB both up by around 4pc.
The strong week for hospitality provider Hostelworld continued with gains of 1.6pc while Irish Continental Group was up 1.3pc.
Kenmare Resources was the biggest loser late on - down 3.6pc. Malin Corp fell by 2pc while Datalex dropped by 1.3pc.
Most European indexes were in positive territory, with the exception of the Dax, which was down 0.35pc, while the CAC was flat.
Eurozone businesses had their best quarter in six years, construction purchasing managers' indexes showed, with individual countries' data also improving, indicating broad-based growth in economies across Europe.
Though major indexes were little changed after the data, it added to an improving picture for investors looking at European equities.
"It's the most positive economic backdrop that we have seen since Mario Draghi's been head of the ECB," said Mike Bell of JP Morgan Asset Management.
"Investors are not fully pricing in that improvement in economic fundamentals, perhaps understandably because of political concerns," he added, noting caution around the French election. "We think that now is a good opportunity to be buying European equities while others are still fearful."
Merger and acquisitions deals continued to drive European stocks.
Oil services groups Wood Group and Amec Foster Wheeler were up 2.8pc and 2.5pc respectively, after Wood Group said it expected about 36pc more cost savings from its deal to buy Amec for £2.2bn(€2.5bn).
"Wood Group's increase to the synergies estimate from this deal is in line with our expectation that the original $134m target materially underestimated the opportunities for cost savings," said RBC oil services analyst Victoria McCulloch.
Chipmaker AMS was the top gainer, up 4.8pc. Northern Trust said Apple's decision to drop Imagination from supplying its graphics technology was probably a one-off, and should not be read across to peers AMS and Dialog Semiconductor.
While peers Wood Group and Amec Foster Wheeler enjoyed the limelight, Petrofac was a top faller, down 3.4pc after broker downgrades from Deutsche Bank and Bernstein. Deutsche Bank cited a "dislocation" between contracting outlook and valuation.