CRH concerns weigh down shares
IRISH shares fell for the seventh session in eight, weighed down by index heavyweight CRH on concerns about the cement industry after rivals saw profits decline.
The ISEQ edged down 2.93 points, or 0.1pc, to close at 2948.13. National benchmark indices declined in 12 of the 18 western European markets with France's CAC 40 and Germany's DAX losing 1.8pc, while the UK's FTSE 100 dropped 1.4pc.
Allied Irish Banks snapped a six-day losing streak after brokers said the bank will sell €1.5bn of three-year government-guaranteed bonds. The bonds sold will be more than the bank's market value but may help to keep the bank in private hands.
Kenmare resumed its seemingly inexorable rise, jumping 7.4pc after saying recently that a titanium mine in Mozambique was performing well. Petroneft Resources added 2pc after the oil explorer in western Siberia said it will start drilling the first of nine wells in April. CPL gained 2.3pc after the recruiter made positive noises about the economy and said things won't get any worse. Irish Continental Group rose 1.8pc a day after the Dublin Port Company said trade levels will "stabilise" at around 2.2m tonnes a month in the first half of 2010.
Among the biggest decliners were Irish Life & Permanent which sank 6.6pc and CRH which fell 1.2pc to extend declines from the previous session. Irish Life's right to raise interest rates was discussed in the Dail yesterday while the company's investment arm began a court action in Amsterdam. CRH extended losses after several rivals reported declines in profit earlier in the week.
Elsewhere in Europe, the Dow Jones Stoxx 600 Index slipped 0.8pc to 245.29 in later afternoon trading. The measure has declined 5.8 percent as US President Barack Obama proposed limits on risk-taking by banks and China moved to restrict lending and cool the fastest economic growth since 2007. "The trends are still intact in economy but the whole thing is getting more bumpy and markets are more nervous," said Manfred Hofer, head of equity analysis at LGT Capital Management. Stocks rallied earlier after President Obama used his first State of the Union address to call for an extension of tax incentives worth $38bn over this year and next.
Nokia soared 9.9pc, leading a gauge of technology stocks to the biggest gain among the Stoxx 600 industry groups. The company reported fourth-quarter net income of €948m, beating the average estimate of €572m. Sweden's H&M rallied 8.4pc after the fashion retailer reported fourth-quarter net income beat analysts' expectations. Banking shares erased earlier gains after Standard & Poor's Ratings Services said it doesn't see the UK "among the most stable and low-risk banking systems globally," depressed by a drop in demand for commercial aircraft.