AIB fall offsets variety of gains
IRISH shares were little changed as declines in AIB were offset by gains in a variety of companies from many of the sectors still represented on the ISEQ.
The benchmark ISEQ Overall index slipped 6.38 points, or 0.2pc, to 2,913.43 as shares in Allied Irish Banks slid 6.7pc at 28.1c. Heavyweight Elan closed up 2.3pc at €5.20 and shares in companies as varied as Donegal Creameries, Datalex, Readymix and Balmoral all posted gains of at least 4pc.
Explorers had a mixed day, with Providence jumping 4.8pc to €3.30, while Petroceltic fell 5.6pc to 17c in the wake of BP's deal with Russia's Rosneft that will give the UK company access to areas of the Arctic previously reserved for Russian oil companies. BP gained 1.5pc in London on the back of the deal.
Vodafone added 1.6pc in London as investors await a deal for the British firm to dispose of its 44pc stake in French mobile operator SFR.
Most European stocks declined as the region's finance chiefs began meeting to work on a new strategy to contain the sovereign-debt crisis.
National benchmark indexes fell in 13 of the 18 western European markets. France's CAC 40 dropped 0.2pc, the UK's FTSE 100 lost 0.3pc and the DAX was little changed. Spain's IBEX 35 tumbled 1pc, while Italy's FTSE MIB retreated 0.5pc. The US market was closed for the Martin Luther King Jr Holiday.
The benchmark Stoxx 600 advanced 0.1pc to 284.06 at the 4.30pm close in London as three stocks fell for each two that gained. The gauge climbed 1pc last week as investors speculated that European leaders will increase their efforts to contain the region's debt crisis.
"The lack of an imminent silver bullet when the euro group finance ministers meet today may disappoint a market that has had its expectations raised over the last few days," Jim Reid, a global strategist at Deutsche Bank in London, wrote in a note. "The strong rally may be seen by the authorities as evidence that current measures are sufficient. . . They would be mistaken to believe this."
ARM Holdings, the UK company which designs chips for Apple's iPhone, slid 3pc after Apple chief executive Steve Jobs was granted a medical leave of absence.
Apple's shares traded in Frankfurt fell 7.5pc, while futures for the S&P 500 and tech-heavy Nasdaq dropped 0.3pc and 0.9pc, respectively.
"Honestly, the effect on the company will probably not be that great in terms of fundamentals," said Richard Windsor, of Nomura. "Perception of the company is another matter. Steve Jobs is seen by the market to be a major force in Apple's strategic direction. If his pancreatic cancer has returned, one could be quite worried."