Saturday 16 December 2017

Euro advance could come to a halt

John Mulligan

John Mulligan

Irish and other European stock markets climbed for a second day in a row amid optimism Italy may see a coalition government formed as investors pushed the yield on the country's bonds higher.

The end of February also brought the ninth month in a row that European stocks have advanced, even as economic indicators this side of the Atlantic remain more uncertain than those in the United States. Although the US economy barely grew in the fourth quarter, jobless claims in the country last week were less than expected.

The Stoxx Europe 600 rose 1pc yesterday, making for its longest rise since 1997. It's up 3.7pc so far this year. But some commentators reckoned the gains may be coming to a halt.

"Thanks to a strong mix of positive business results and signals of central banks remaining expansive, the upward trend on equity markets is strengthened and may continue," said Daniel Gschwend, portfolio manager at Diem Client Partner in Zurich, which oversees more than €818m worth of assets. "Looking at this long winning streak, however, I expect a substantial correction will soon be needed."

Ireland's ISEQ Overall Index joined the party yesterday, having dipped slightly on Wednesday even as most other European gauges rose.

It ended the session 35.13 points, or 0.94pc higher, at 3,756.77. That brings it back to a fresh four-year high.

Stocks on the move yesterday included Cavan insulation maker Kingpsan, which jumped 4.7pc, or 40 cent to €8.90 on the back of steady full-year results it issued earlier this week. The stock is now close again to the €9.10 it reached in the middle of February – a level it hadn't reached in five years.

Food business Kerry Group continued its advance after better than expected results announced this week. It rose just over 2pc, or 86 cent, to €42.96 – another new high.

Ryanair made a modest 0.6pc gain to €5.65 while Aer Lingus edged very slightly down, by 0.4pc to €1.24 after the EC earlier this week blocked Ryanair's latest efforts to buy its rival.

National benchmark indices rose in all of the 18 western- European markets except Portugal yesterday. France's CAC 40 and Germany's DAX both added 0.9pc, while the UK's FTSE 100 climbed 0.6pc.

Drug, agri and materials group Bayer rose 2.7pc to €75.86 after it said sales this year will grow to about €41bn.

Spain's Telefonica added 20 cents to €10 after reporting fourth-quarter earnings that beat analysts' estimates.

International Consolidated Airlines rallied 7.9pc to 239.2p, its highest price since July 26, 2011. Europe's third-largest carrier had a full-year operating loss of €23m, compared with a €485m profit a year earlier. Analysts had expected an €88m loss.

Irish Independent

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