European stocks report biggest weekly increase since April
EUROPEAN shares rose to complete their biggest weekly jump since April, as insurers and banks rallied.
At home, Irish shares also increased, with the ISEQ Overall Index rising 0.67pc, or 29.73 points, to end the last trading day of the week at 4,492.90.
By contrast, the pound weakened for the first time in three days against the euro after reports showed the UK budget deficit widened and consumer confidence unexpectedly declined, damping optimism the recovery is gaining ground.
Sterling fell from the strongest in two weeks versus the single currency even as separate data confirmed Britain's economic growth accelerated in the third quarter.
It was the second day of gains, meanwhile, for the Dublin index.
European shares extended their rally after a report showed that the US economy expanded in the third quarter at a faster rate than previously forecast.
The news that Standard & Poor's had downgraded the European Union did not appear to weigh on investors.
The leaders in Dublin included IFG Group, which rose 23.5pc to €2.10, amid reports it had received a buyout offer.
The company confirmed it had received an approach which may or may not lead to an offer to acquire the company.
AIB increased 3.6pc to 12c despite the news that Moody's had downgraded its deposit rating late on Thursday night and altered its outlook for the bailed-out bank to 'stable'.
Fruit company Fyffes rose 1.3pc to 86c, while Ryanair was up 1.1pc to €6.23. Aer Lingus fell 0.6pc to €1.25, while C&C slipped 1.7pc to €4.18.
Recruitment company CPL Resources was down 1.9pc to €7.20.
Elsewhere, European shares rose for a third day.
The Stoxx Europe 600 Index advanced 0.5pc, bringing its increase for the week to 3.7pc after the Federal Reserve said it would start paring its record stimulus.
National benchmark indexes rose in 16 of the 18 western European markets.
The UK's FTSE 100 Index increased 0.3pc, France's CAC 40 added 0.4pc and Germany's DAX jumped 0.7pc.
"The positive move here is still a reaction on the Fed getting the 'tapering is not tightening' message right," Witold Bahrke, senior strategist at PFA Asset Management in Copenhagen, said.
"This is still giving some relief to European stocks," Mr Bahrke added.