Thursday 22 February 2018

Investors nervy as EU crisis deepens

John Mulligan

John Mulligan

With the Spanish economy having succumbed to a double-dip recession, European markets retreated yesterday. Last week, the UK also fell victim to the double-dip dilemma, as its economy shrank in the first quarter of the year.

Spain's unemployment levels are within a whisker of a record and signs increasingly point to a nation that will follow the same fate of Ireland, Portugal and Greece in seeking a bailout.

The political rhetoric may say otherwise, but the markets will play a hand in determining the real path that Spain will be directed towards.

Add to the mix the second-round voting in France's presidential election that takes place next Sunday, and investors are uneasy.

The likely winner of the French election, Francois Hollande, is unsympathetic to business, has signalled massive public spending hikes that the country can't really afford and wants to square up to Germany.

In the US, the Institute for Supply Management Chicago said its business barometer dropped to 56.2 in April from 62.2 a month earlier.

In Ireland, the ISEQ Overall Index just about stayed in positive territory until after lunchtime, when it too declined. It ended the session down just over 0.5pc, or 18.14 points, at 3,224.45.


This month sees a raft of Irish companies host annual general meetings and deliver results. Up this week is Aer Lingus, which delivers an interim management statement on Thursday and hosts its AGM on Friday. Packaging group Smurfit Kappa will post first-quarter results on Friday and host its AGM.

Shares in Aer Lingus were unchanged at 97.5 cent, while Smurfit Kappa yielded earlier gains of as much as 1.2pc to end the day down just 1.2c at €6.36. Other movers yesterday included fruit distributor Fyffes, which advanced 4.1pc, or 1.8c, to 45.8c. Distribution group DCC rose 3.2pc, or 59.5c, to €19.10, while Independent News & Media added 3.9pc, or 1c, to 26.5c.

Shares in recruitment firm CPL Resources fell 2.5pc to €3.04, even as UK peer Harvey Nash issued full-year results and said its business in the UK and Ireland beat expectations.

FBD Holdings closed up 1.1pc, or 10c, at €8.70 as it released an interim management statement welcomed by analysts. It reiterated full-year guidance.

Shares in Bulmers-maker C&C edged slightly higher, gaining 2.4c to €3.79. The world's largest brewer, AB InBev, said it was launching a new cider in the US during the second quarter.

National benchmark indices fell in 11 of the 18 western European markets yesterday. France's CAC 40 lost 1.6pc, the UK's FTSE 100 slid 0.7pc and Germany's DAX retreated 0.6pc.

Irish Independent

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