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Lower confidence in US knocks back sentiment

THE ISEQ index of Irish shares closed down a half a per cent at 2682.36 yesterday. The small decline was in line with mostly flat-to-weaker markets elsewhere.

In Dublin, Readymix was again the big mover. Shares in the cement maker were up as the market continues to bid up the paper on the back of announced takeover interest.

An initial surge on Wednesday that lifted the shares 35pc to 23 cent each continued into the weekend to bring Readymix up another 13pc to 26 cent each at the end of the day yesterday.

Irish banks were weaker, reflecting weakness in the sector in the UK and beyond.

Shares in Bank of Ireland were down 3.4pc at 60 cent each despite the bank placing €300m of private-placement debt with investors on Friday.

Despite the paper being placed on the back of reverse enquiry from lenders, Bank of Ireland will pay a hefty 5.75pc interest on the three-year debt.


AIB shares fell 4.2pc each to 41 cent. The increasingly low prices for each of the two biggest banks means even small falls in share prices are beginning to look like major swings.

In the UK HSBC's decision not to go ahead with efforts to buy South Africa's Nedbank meant a big fall for Nedbank majority owner Old Mutual. UK-listed shares in banking and insurance group Old Mutual dropped 4.8pc.

That took the financial sector, in general, lower but the FTSE 100 index of the UK's most highly capitalised companies ended the week in positive territory.

Mining shares were also weaker, but Rolls-Royce shares were up 1.1pc at 635 pence each, the sixth day in succession the shares closed up.

Analysts at Goldman Sachs changed its recommendation to "buy" from "neutral".

The FTSE 100 was down 0.4pc yesterday on the day, but up 0.8pc on the week.

Core Europe was better with France's CAC 40 index, closing up 0.2pc and Germany's DAX closed up 0.6pc. The pan-European Stoxx Europe 600 index was up very slightly by 0.10pc at 265.83.

The UK and US were weaker after data from the US showed consumer confidence weaker than analysts had expected.

It was enough to undo a boost to sentiment early in the day when Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke said he could back further stimulus measures to boost the economy.

Irish Independent