Business World

Saturday 24 February 2018

Investors sit tight as they wait for Fed's next move

Peter Flanagan

Peter Flanagan

IRISH shares were flat yesterday as markets awaited the minutes of the Federal Reserve's latest meeting in the US. Traders here were awaiting today's government figures to see if Ireland had stayed in recession for a third quarter.

By the close of trading, the ISEQ Overall Index had gained 0.13pc, or 0.44 points, to close at 3,193.33.

That was a good performance, considering that the market had plummeted early, falling as low as 3,164, before regaining its footing through the rest of the day.

The Central Statistics Office (CSO) is to release its quarterly GDP figures this morning, which are widely expected to show a third quarter of contraction in a row.

Meanwhile, the minutes of the latest Federal Reserve meeting in the US were expected to give hints as to how the Fed sees the performance of the world's biggest economy.

In percentage terms, the biggest winner yesterday was Independent News & Media, which led the market with a 6.36pc gain to close at 23c. Media reports suggested that INM could be planning to divest its South African business.

Providence Resources had an especially good day, hitting a closing price of €8 for a gain of 5.26pc.

Oil prices continued to rebound in trading centres around the globe. Brent Crude climbed 2.27pc to tip back over the $100 mark.

Agri-based stocks had a strong session. Origin Enterprises surged 4.26pc to €3.65, while Kerry Group added 1.85pc to end at €36.39.

However, those gains were offset by a number of laggards during the session.

Aer Lingus slid 2.8pc to close at €1.04 as doubts continued to fester that Ryanair's bid for the former national carrier would proceed, while pharmaceuticals firm Elan slid 2.67pc to close at €11.31.

Elsewhere, most European stocks fell before the release of minutes from the latest Federal Reserve meeting, as investors waited for clues about further measures to spur growth.

National benchmark indices fell in 11 of the 18 western European markets. The UK's FTSE 100 rose less than 0.1pc. France's CAC 40 lost 0.6pc, while Germany's DAX gained 0.2pc. The benchmark Stoxx Europe 600 Index dropped less than 0.1pc.

Contraction

"All eyes are now on the FOMC (Federal Open Market Committee) minutes, in the hope that the Fed is ready to take further steps to prop up the US economy," said Stephane Ekolo, chief European strategist at Market Securities in London.

Burberry Group, the UK's largest luxury goods maker, declined 7.4pc to its lowest this year. The company reported a slowdown in first-quarter sales growth that trailed analysts' estimates as revenue from its licensing business fell, signalling a possible slowdown for the industry.

LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton, the world's biggest luxury-goods company, fell 3.2pc and PPR, the French owner of Gucci, retreated 3.5pc.

Britvic, the maker of Robinsons fruit drinks, plunged 13pc, the biggest drop since March 2006, after saying full-year results would be "at the bottom end" of analysts' estimates.

A recall of its Fruit Shoot products will hurt earnings further.

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