Friday 23 February 2018

Fresh turmoil in markets as quake adds to woes

John Mulligan

A fresh bout of turmoil brought the working week to an end yesterday as markets shuddering from concerns over oil, interest rates and a potential Portuguese bailout, were battered further as a tsunami raged onto Japan's shores.

The financial cost for the world's third-richest nation is likely to run to billions of dollars and insurers are nervous.

The 1995 Kobe earthquake in Japan caused $132bn (equivalent to about €101bn at the time) worth of damage.

The ISEQ Overall Index tracked its European counterparts and ended yesterday's session 1.03pc, or 29.6 points lower, at 2844.89 -- bringing its decline for the week to about 2.5pc.

Among the main movers were stocks including Aer Lingus, which yielded ground recovered mid-week when it rose on the back of figures from Lufthansa. Yesterday the stock slumped almost 4.1pc, or 3.5 cent to close at 82 cent. It's now at a level not witnessed since last summer. Ryanair lost just over 2pc, or 7 cent, to €3.35.

Other decliners yesterday included packaging group Smurfit Kappa. It shed 3.4pc, or almost 30 cent, to finish at €8.30. Food group Glanbia was off over 2.4pc, or 10 cent, at €4.

Gainers on the Irish market included Independent News & Media, which rose 3.4pc, or 2 cent, to 61 cent. Building materials firm Grafton climbed 1.4pc, or 5 cent, to €3.50.

National benchmark indices fell in all of the 18 western European markets yesterday, except Greece. The UK's FTSE-100 Index lost 0.3pc, Germany's DAX sank 1.2pc and France's CAC-40 retreated 0.9pc.

Greece's ASE Index climbed 2.3pc as European Union leaders gathered in Brussels to discuss a blueprint to improve competitiveness, a plan Germany demanded as a condition for expanding support for the region's weakest economies.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Thursday she would back lower interest rates under Ireland's bailout terms if the country backed a common corporate tax base in the EU.

Swiss Re, the world's second-biggest reinsurer, dropped 3.5pc to 51.7 Swiss francs. Munich Re, the largest, lost 4.3pc to €111.75. Officials at the companies declined to comment on their possible earthquake losses.

Dixons Retail, the owner of Currys and PC World, retreated 2.3pc to 17.16p after a Citigroup downgrade to "hold" from "buy".

Irish Independent

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