Business World

Sunday 18 February 2018

As Brexit takes hold shares reflect caution at end of strong quarter

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE)
Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) Newsdesk Newsdesk

In a week when Article 50 was trigged, signalling the start of arduous negotiations for Britain's exit of the European Union, shares finished Friday cautiously as they exited what has otherwise been a strong quarter.

Official data yesterday showed the British services industry - which accounts for about two-thirds of its economy - contracted in January for the first time since March last year.

Other recent data has also suggested consumers are becoming more cautious.

British households' declining spending power - real disposable income suffered the steepest quarterly drop in three years between October and December - led them to run down their savings to a record low in late 2016.

US stocks were little changed within a few hours of the opening bell there, with the S&P 500 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average firmly on course to book their biggest first-quarter gains in four years.

In Ireland, the ISEQ Overall Index was among the gainers yesterday. It added 0.63pc to close at 6,658.58.

Bank of Ireland was unchanged at 24 cent as it unveiled its plans for a holding company and reducing the number of shares in issue in a consolidation move.

Shareholders will get one share for every 30 they own.

Financial services group IFG jumped 4.3pc while shares in home builder Abbey advanced 3.5pc to €14.00.

Other gainers included Hibernia REIT, which rose 2pc to €1.24 after it said it has pre-let two floors of its new Windmill Lane office block in Dublin to Informatica.

Shares in Smurfit Kappa fell 2.3pc, and Permanent TSB was 1pc lower at €2.41.

The UK's FTSE-100 declined 0.63pc. Germany's DAX rose 0.46pc and France's CAC-40 was 0.65pc higher.


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