IRISH shares fell yesterday, as losses among most major stocks ensured the market here got off to a slow start to the week.
By the close, the ISEQ Overall Index had fallen 0.96pc, or 28.88 points, to 2,976.29, sending the index back below the 3,000 barrier it had breached on Friday for the first time since February.
The market slumped more or less from the opening, with traders selling most major stocks.
The banks led the market down, with Bank of Ireland and Irish Life & Permanent the biggest laggards in percentage terms. Bank of Ireland fell 10.36pc while IL&P dropped 8pc. Allied Irish Banks was little changed.
Oil and gas explorer Dragon Oil slid 4.29pc to €6 after analysts said it was unlikely that Emirates National Oil Company would make a bid for the company in the near term.
Construction stocks took a hit, with CRH falling 0.69pc to €16.64 a day before the company's annual general meeting while Grafton group, which also has its AGM today, dropped 2.96pc to €3.45.
Few stocks made any significant move up. Medical services company Icon rose 6.25pc to €17, albeit on very low volume.
Elsewhere, European stocks declined as energy companies fell with oil and automakers slid after a report stoked speculation Germany may raise company-car taxes.
National benchmark indexes fell in 15 of the 18 western European markets. Germany's DAX dropped 0.4pc and France's CAC 40 lost 0.3pc. The UK's FTSE 100 gained 0.2pc after being closed for holidays on the previous two trading sessions. The Stoxx 600 Index fell 0.5pc.
"There has been a lot of speculation that a new tax on business cars in Germany may be introduced," said Ioan Smith, a London-based director at Knight Capital Europe.
"An article came out last week on the topic but more people are trading on the news today. It just shows how priced-to-perfection some of these stocks are so people are happy take some profits."
A gauge of auto-industry shares dropped for the first time in nine days after a report commissioned by the German environment ministry said the government should change the way it taxes company cars.
Volkswagen, Europe's biggest carmaker, slid 1.7pc, BMW, which reports earnings today, declined 1.7pc and Daimler slid 1.6pc.
In London, Man Group gained 3.3pc. The hedge-fund manager said it raised $1.5bn (€1.01bn) from Japanese investors for a product tied to the company's largest hedge fund, beating estimates by analysts who raised concerns that the March earthquake would hurt demand.
BHP Billiton lost 1.5pc and Antofagasta slid 2.6pc.
Thorntons, a confectionery retailer, tumbled 13pc after sales fell.