| 6.5°C Dublin

Gains offset by major firms' losses

IRISH shares were little changed yesterday as gains across a wide range of stocks were offset by losses among a handful of the major companies on the exchange.

By the close the ISEQ Overall Index was up 0.06pc, or 1.72 points, at 2,979.22. As on Monday, a lack of specific company or economic news meant the market drifted for long periods during the day.

After falling early, the index stayed within a 17-point range for the rest of the day. A late sell off cost the index four points it had built up during the afternoon.

Most food stocks had a strong day following decent results from Danone and Premier Foods in the morning. Those results pushed up Glanbia in particular, with the Kilkenny company closing up 4.07pc at €4.20. Cider maker C&C was another leader pushing up 2.06pc at €3.47.

Sandwich maker Greencore added 2.61pc to reach €1.22 after the board said it was still "assessing its options" before deciding whether to try to revive a deal for the UK's Northern Foods.

Away from the food sector, commodity companies had another strong day. Kenmare Resources rose 2.22pc to 46c after speculation the miner may become a takeover target. Oil and gas explorer Providence Resources added 1.82pc to close at €2.80.


Those gains were offset, however, by losses among major stocks, with CRH slipping after poor retail data in the US suggested recovery there would not be plain sailing by any stretch. The construction giant, which makes up nearly 30pc of the ISEQ, closed down 0.79pc at €16.40.

As well as CRH, Smurfit Kappa slumped 1.21pc to €8.95 while Paddy Power fell 0.86pc to €28.95.

Across Europe, stocks rose for a third day, sending the Stoxx Europe 600 Index to its highest level since September 2008, as companies from Barclays to Premier Foods posted results that beat analysts' estimates.

National benchmark indices rose in 10 of the 18 western European markets. France's CAC 40 climbed 0.3pc and Germany's DAX rose 0.1pc. The UK's FTSE 100 lost 0.4pc while the Stoxx Europe 600 rose 0.1pc.

"For the moment, the motor is the transfer of money into stocks and that's confirmed by 2010 earnings," said Yves Maillot, head of investments at Robeco Gestion in Paris. "In the short term, we may have a correction. For the past month, investors have been looking at all of the positive points. We could have new questions on the situation as a whole."

In London, Barclays climbed 5.8pc. Britain's third-largest bank said 2010 net income fell to £3.56bn (€4.25bn), beating estimates.

Irish Independent