Business World

Tuesday 20 March 2018

European stocks hit 18-month high

John Mulligan

John Mulligan

European bourses were bolstered yesterday to an 18-month high as figures showed that German investors are more upbeat about the country's economic prospects than they have been in seven months.

The positive sentiment pushed German stocks to their highest level in five years.

Germany faces "a very favourable environment, largely on the back of expansionary monetary policy," said Ralph Solveen, head of economic research at Commerzbank in Frankfurt.

Stockmarkets were also helped yesterday by speculation that a deal is closer to being reached in the US to avoid what would be a devastating 'fiscal cliff' that could be reached by the end of the year. Securing a deal is likely to lead to a stock rally.

There's also some expectations that markets could rise in the next few weeks as a result of the so-called 'Santa Claus Rally', an upswing in stocks during the last five days of December and the first two days in January.

In Ireland, the ISEQ Overall Index added 20.87 points, or 0.63pc, to close the day at 3,355.80.

There were some meaningful gains made by stocks including miner Kenmare Resources. Shares in the ilmenite producer advanced 3.4pc, or 1.3 cent, to 39.8 cent.


Packaging group Smurfit Kappa was another gainer, adding almost 2.7pc, or 24 cent, to close at €9.18. It had been up over 1pc for a good part of the day but surged near the end of trading.

Ryanair added 5.7 cents, or 1.2pc, to €4.85, bringing it back closer to the €5 level it hit briefly in mid-November – its highest level in years.

Stocks that dipped yesterday included Grafton Group, which shed just over 0.5pc, or 2 cent, to €3.63. Fruit distributor Fyffes fell 0.9pc to 54 cent.

National benchmark indices rose in all of the 18 western European markets. France's CAC gained 0.9pc, the UK's FTSE 100 climbed 0.1pc, while Germany's DAX advanced 0.8pc.

ThyssenKrupp added 5.6pc to €17.18. CEO Heinrich Hiesinger said the company sees a solution for its Steel Americas units by the end of next year. Germany's biggest steelmaker said its net loss widened to €4.7bn in the year ended September 30 from €1.29bn a year earlier. It also cancelled its annual dividend.

KBC Bank – which has just opened its first retail branch in Ireland – fell 4.8pc to €22.34 after raising €1.25bn from a share sale to maintain capital reserves amid accelerated reimbursements of state aid.

Tullow Oil tumbled 8.4pc to 1,150 pence, its lowest level in more than 15 months, after it agreed to buy Norway's Spring Energy for $372m, and said it would sell its North Sea holdings.

Irish Independent

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