Markets mixed as decision from US Fed awaited
It was a busy day for stockmarkets yesterday as investors waited for commentary from the US Federal Reserve as it met on monetary policy. The Fed was expected to leave interest rates unchanged, but increases could be on the agenda this year.
The Fed, which hiked rates in December for the first time in nearly a decade, sounded a cautious note at its last policy meeting in January, amid a sell-off on financial markets, weaker oil prices and falling inflation expectations.
In the UK, George Osborne delivered his budget, cutting corporation tax and introducing a tax on sugary drinks. He also warned of the dangers of a Brexit, and also warned that the economy there will grow more slowly than had been forecast.
But the FTSE rose as Osborne offered measures that boosted oil and gas firms, as well as homebuilders.
"Overall sentiment remains positive," said Markus Huber, a trader at City of London Markets.
But the broader picture across European stockmarkets was mixed by late afternoon.
In Ireland, the ISEQ closed down 0.4pc, or 25.03 points, at 6,166.35.
Shares in Ryanair were just over 2pc, or 27 cent higher at €13.73 before the close, while shares in Bank of Ireland continued their reversal from gains made in previous sessions. They were down 3.3pc at 26.1 cent.
The big share news of the day was with Aryzta, however. Chief executive Owen Killian sold €16m worth of shares in the company, a move he said he "regrets". He said he had to sell the stock because a fall in the shares had impacted the "collateral value" of the share.
Shares in Aryzta, whose brands include Cuisine de France, tumbled almost 11pc in Dublin.
The UK's FTSE-100 closed 0.58p higher, while France's CAC-40 was 0.22pc lower. Germany's DAX rose 0.5pc.
Shares in oil companies such as BP and Eni advanced as oil prices climbed. Tullow Oil got a further boost from a Kenya oil discovery . Shares in Tullow, which is headed by Aidan Heavey, rose 7.5pc.
Shares in Royal Dutch Shell were 3pc higher.
Banks fell the most, dropping 1.9pc. Deutsche Bank and UBS both lost ground after downbeat comments from their chief executives .
Companies managing the wealth of British retail investors were boosted after George Osborne announced fresh plans to encourage people to save more.
He has raised the amount everyone can save tax-free and lending a special hand to younger people saving for a house or retirement. Reuters