Business World

Sunday 18 March 2018

Global optimism helps ISEQ close at its highest level since June 2010

Thomas Molloy

Thomas Molloy

THE ISEQ closed at its highest levels since June 2010 as shares everywhere posted gains on general optimism about the state of the global economy.

The benchmark index advanced 60.55 points, or 2pc, to 3,068.34 points led by Bank of Ireland, Petroceltic and Readymix.

Petroceltic was the best performer with shares in the oil company jumping one cent, or 8.7pc, to 10 cents as city broker Daniel Stewart initiated coverage and tipped the company's well diversified asset base that has 'game changing' potential.

Bank of Ireland soared one cent, or seven percent, to 12 cents as the lender named Liam McLoughlin as chief executive of its new retail Ireland division. Andrew Keating was named as group chief financial officer. Readymix, the star of the exchange this year following a takeover bid from its largest shareholder, tacked on another cent to close at 19 cents -- a 5.6pc rise.

It was a similar story elsewhere as European stocks advanced to a six-month high and national benchmark indexes rose in 17 of the 18 western European markets.

Banks and carmakers

The Stoxx Europe 600 Index extended its best start to a year since 1998, as gauges of manufacturing increased from America to the euro area to China.

Banks and carmakers led gains. ICAP jumped 7.7pc after saying annual pretax profit will be at the "upper end" of analysts' estimates. RWE climbed 4.9pc after Morgan Stanley added it to its best ideas list.

The markets took cheer from manufacturing data which signaled the sector is healthy in the US, UK, Germany and China.

"US manufacturing data is key," said Guillaume Duchesne, an equity strategist at BGL BNP Paribas. "Industrial activity is doing well. Jobs data at the end of the week will be important."

Bank shares rose 3.8pc for the best performance on the Stoxx 600. Banco Santander, Spain's biggest lender, advanced 3.6pc. Santander remains Nomura's preferred Spanish bank, analysts wrote in a note. Nomura maintained its "underweight" position on the country's lenders. Credit Agricole, France's third-largest bank, rallied 7.4pc.

BP, Europe's second-biggest oil company, gained 2.6pc while Infineon Technologies advanced 5.6pc. Renault jumped 4.9pc after global sales rose 10pc.

Sandvik closed down 0.6pc after falling as much as 6.3pc. The world's biggest maker of metal-cutting tools reported fourth-quarter profits that missed estimates as it booked costs related to job cuts.

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