Europe sees a dip ahead of Fed meeting
Irish stocks closed little changed but indices elsewhere in Europe fell, snapping two days of gains, before a Federal Reserve meeting next week that may give clues on when it will reduce its stimulus.
National benchmark indexes dropped in 12 of the 18 western European markets. The UK's FTSE 100 lost 0.3pc, while France's CAC 40 retreated 0.9pc and Germany's DAX dropped 0.7pc.
The ISEQ closed up 4.3 points, or 0.1pc, at 4,411.73 points after spending much of the morning and afternoon under water.
Among the gainers were Merrion Pharmaceutical, which jumped 6.8pc, and games maker Zamano, which closed up 5.9pc. Relative newcomer Green REIT closed 2.4pc higher while Smurfit Kappa was up 2.5pc on hopes that paper prices are rising.
Elsewhere in Europe, car and technology companies led the losses. Peugeot lost 4.9pc and Nokia dropped 2.4pc.
The Stoxx Europe 600 Index lost 0.6pc. The index has dropped 3pc this month as better-than-forecast US economic data fuelled speculation the Fed will taper stimulus measures sooner than expected.
The European stocks gauge has still rallied 13pc this year.
"The downside risk to equities would be a very hawkish Fed next week," said Pierre Mouton at Notz, Stucki in Geneva. "We think that the US economy will prove much stronger than expected. On one hand, it is very good for equities, and on the other hand, it adds pressure to push interest rates higher, which in the short run could be damageable for stocks."
The euro, at $1.3737, was at its highest level since late October versus the dollar and a five-year high of 142.19 yen as anticipation of further moves from Tokyo to boost growth kept the Japanese currency on the back foot.
"It is hard to say the euro will weaken unless the ECB does something," said Laurent Fransolet, an interest rate strategist at Barclays in London. "The bar for them (to carry out quantitative easing or other types of aggressive easing measures) is quite a bit higher compared to the Fed or Bank of England."