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Stock exchange breaks €10bn mark in Q1 after confidence surge

TRADING in the Irish equities market rose 26pc to break through the €10bn mark in the first quarter of the year as investors' confidence increased dramatically from their gloomy outlook at the end of last year.

The surge in Dublin trading was revealed in new figures published by the Irish Stock Exchange (ISE) yesterday, while a new survey from RaboDirect charts the increase in investor confidence.

First-quarter trading in the Dublin market peaked at €47.9bn in 2007, as an average of 4,780 trades a day were processed.

Trading values collapsed when the crisis hit, but recovered from €8.2bn in the last three months of 2011 to €10.4bn in the first three months of this year.

The recovery came as the market capitalisation of companies quoted on the ISEQ rose by 20.9pc to €105bn during the quarter, partly because of the recapitalisation of banks on the exchange.

Meanwhile, RaboDirect yesterday revealed that its investor confidence barometer for Ireland hit an all-time high in April as confidence improved dramatically from its last recorded level in December.

The barometer, which was launched in April 2010, uses 100 as the divide between negative and positive sentiment, with zero to 100 signalling negative, and 101 to 200 signalling a positive.

The result for April's survey of 405 RaboDirect customers was 85.6 -- still in negative territory but well ahead of December's 69.1 result, which was the worst in the survey's history.

"With most markets giving a positive return year to date, investors are showing an interest in opportunities they may have shied away from last year," said Killian Nolan, investment manager at RaboDirect.

He added, however, that while there had been a "clear upturn in investor sentiment" in recent months, "it remains to be seen whether this will hold up throughout the course of the year and if the markets have any more surprises in store".

The detailed results of the latest survey shows that 15pc of respondents say they are confident about investing in the Irish property market over the next three months, well up on the 5pc who were positive about Irish property in December.

Emerging markets are still the favoured pick of investors, with 35pc prepared to invest, followed by 26pc for Asia, 23pc flocking to the US and 13pc looking favourably on Europe.

Some 40pc of investors still describe cash as their preferred asset class, down on 52pc in December, while 38pc prefer shares and 19pc prefer bonds.

Irish Independent