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Irish re-entry sparks share surge


US Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke. Photo: Getty Images

US Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke. Photo: Getty Images

US Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke. Photo: Getty Images

IRISH shares surged yesterday as most sectors thrived on the back of a strong return to the markets by the NTMA and positive comments on Wednesday night from US Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke.

By the close of trading the ISEQ Overall Index had added 1.36pc, or 40.7 points, to climb to 3,023.34.

The index started to climb from the opening bell and actually crossed the 3,050 barrier before falling back once the US market had opened.

Ireland's first foray back into the international bond markets since being bailed out was seen as a resounding success and Mr Bernanke, while pessimistic on the US economy in general, was also seen to indicate another round of quantitative easing could be coming in the US, boosting sentiment.

Gains were spread across a wide range of businesses, with Allied Irish Banks and Bank of Ireland rising 4pc and 2pc respectively.

The airlines were boosted by excellent results from EasyJet. Aer Lingus surged 5.47pc to 79c while Ryanair rose 3.05pc to €4.13.

The leader in percentage terms yesterday though was Smurfit Kappa Group. The packaging giant closed up 6.27pc at €6.27 after rival Hamburger surprised the market by cutting production and announcing a €100 per tonne increase in recycled containerboard prices. That announcement was widely seen as positive for SKG.

There were some stocks that struggled yesterday though, and Kerry Group was, for once, one of the worst-performing stocks, losing 1.45pc after being cut to "hold" by Collins Stewart.

Elsewhere, European stocks advanced, climbing 20pc from the September low and entering a bull market, amid the Fed's comments and reports Greece's creditors will make a new offer for a debt-swap deal.

National benchmark indices advanced in all 18 western European markets. The UK's FTSE 100 Index rose 1.3pc, France's CAC 40 Index added 1.5pc and Germany's DAX Index gained 1.8pc. The Stoxx Europe 600 Index rose 1.3pc.

"Whilst growth has been better than expected in the US, Bernanke's press conference highlighted the willingness and ability of the Federal Reserve to provide more stimuli," said Gerard Lane, an equity strategist at Shore Capital in Liverpool.

BHP Billiton, the world's largest mining company, advanced 3.3pc. Rio Tinto Group, the third biggest, rose 4.9pc. Anglo American, the third-largest copper producer, climbed 3.1pc after saying iron-ore output increased 5pc in the fourth quarter.

Nokia climbed 2.7pc after selling more smartphones last quarter than projected.

EasyJet, Europe's second-biggest discount carrier, rose 10pc after revenue jumped almost 17pc in the first quarter.

Irish Independent