Business World

Saturday 24 February 2018

Banking gains edge ISEQ higher

Joe Brennan

Irish shares edged higher yesterday, in line with other European markets, with financials standing out as a strong spot even as ISEQ heavyweight CRH dipped.

The Iseq Overall Index added 0.3pc to close at 3,056.5 points.

Bank of Ireland led the list of gainers, soaring over 9pc to 87c, amid massive trading volumes as fund managers added to their positions ahead of the stock's inclusion in the MSCI Standard Index from yesterday evening.

Rival Allied Irish Banks added 4.7pc to 94c amid increased optimism surrounding the auction of its Polish unit Bank Zachodni as more prospective buyers crawled out of the woodwork.

Irish Life & Permanent was also in demand, rising 2.4pc to €1.64, as investors grew increasingly confident that the group would be able to lead consolidation among second-tier lenders.

Index heavyweight CRH dipped 0.5pc to €18.99 as it succumbed to a bout of mild profit-taking from recent gains.

Irish Continental Group slipped 1.6pc to €15.10 as investors mulled signs of tension between the group and its largest shareholders, the Moonduster consortium. Moonduster effectively shot down a move by the group last week to seek an investor mandate to pursue a rights issue to fund potential deals.


Meanwhile, the pan-European FTSE Eurofirst 300 index rose 1.1pc, with analysts pointing to supportive economic data, notably from the United States on Friday.

"Consumer sentiment is better and we're just a few weeks away from the Q2 reporting season, for which the indications are very healthy for the market," said Christian Stocker, strategist at UniCredit Global Research in Munich, Germany.

Sentiment was further boosted by data yesterday that showed eurozone industrial output surged more in April than in any month in almost two decades, bolstering the view that economic recovery could be gathering pace.

Banks were among the biggest gainers, continuing a recovery of recent days. News that Moody's had cut Greece's credit rating came after the European markets' close.

Insurer AXA rose 3.7pc in Paris after it confirmed it was in talks with Resolution on the sale of its British life arm.

BP stayed volatile, falling 9.3pc to its lowest close since 1997 as it came under increasing pressure from US President Barack Obama.

The company may decide to cut or defer its second-quarter dividend as it faces a massive bill for clean-up and compensation. BP shares are down more than 46pc from a mid-April peak. Other oils were higher, however, boosted by a rising crude price, with a weaker dollar, which also supported metals prices. (Additional reporting, Bloomberg)

Irish Independent

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