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Elan and banks bear brunt of slide

Irish shares dipped as Elan and the country's two largest banks declined. Shares elsewhere in Europe also extended their recent losing streak, falling for a fourth day.

National benchmark indexes declined in 10 of the 18 western European markets. The ISEQ closed down 12.19 points, or 0.4pc, at 3,024.75, while Britain's FTSE 100 slid 0.6pc, France's CAC 40 fell 0.8pc and Germany's DAX retreated 1pc.

Equities are going through a "rough patch" at present because the markets are not convinced that the Greeks can dig themselves out of their fiscal hole, Goodbody's Dermot O'Leary wrote in a note to investors yesterday.

Other worries include the fact China has begun tightening its money supply and President Barack Obama's determination to limit the risk-taking within the US banking system, he added.

The country's two biggest lenders fell after reports that the National Asset Management Agency may pay less than the €54bn originally estimated by the Government for loans it buys from the country's banks.

Bank of Ireland closed down 0.8pc, while Allied Irish Banks fell 2.6pc.


Smurfit gained 4.3pc after rival SCA became the latest company to say it will increase recycled containerboard prices from the beginning of next month. Analysts expect other industry players including Smurfit to follow suit over the coming weeks.

Elan closed down 1pc as pharmaceutical stocks took a pasting all over Europe.

Earlier, Elan rose as much as 2.3pc after Acorda Therapeutics received FDA approval on Friday for Ampyra, a treatment that is manufactured by Elan's EDT division. The product uses one of EDT's drug delivery technologies known as a matrix drug absorption system and could generate income for Elan.

The Dow Jones Stoxx 600 Index dropped 0.5pc in London, having swung between gains and losses at least 18 times.

Swedish mobile phone maker Ericsson fell 1.1pc after the company reported a 92pc plunge in fourth-quarter net income as phone companies reduced spending on networks.

Eurobank, Greece's second-biggest lender, climbed 3.9pc to €6.69 and Piraeus Bank surged 6.6pc to €6.82.

Greece may sell at least €5bn of five-year debt through banks this week, according to a person familiar with the transaction. Investors placed orders for about €20bn of the bonds, according to a banker involved in the deal.

Philips soared 5.2pc, the biggest intra-day gain in almost eight weeks after profit came in higher than expected.

Spyker Cars, the Dutch sports-car maker that is in talks to buy General Motors' Saab unit, jumped 59pc to €3.43 on speculation the companies may have reached an agreement.

Irish Independent