Sunday 19 January 2020

Irish shares edge higher despite a Europe-wide dip

Joe Brennan

Irish shares edged higher yesterday, even as most European markets dipped, as C&C, CRH and Smurfit Kappa stood out as bring spots. However, banks declined as the market reacted to weaker-than-expected figures from UK peer Barclays.

The ISEQ Overall Index ended yesterday's session up 0.7pc at 3,397 points.

C&C rose 4.6pc to €3.60 after the cider manufacturer agreed to sell its spirits and liqueurs unit for €300m.

"The deal makes C&C a much more focused business," said analyst Liam Igoe at Goodbody Stockbrokers. "The balance-sheet strength increases the company's flexibility in terms of potential opportunities that may arise over the next 12 to 18 months." Market heavyweight CRH was also in demand, adding 2.5pc to €21.43, as some analysts suggested their US earnings forecasts may have been too pessimistic on the back of positive industry data in recent days.

Smurfit Kappa jumped 3.6pc to €7.70 as investors positioned themselves ahead of the group's first-quarter figures next week.

AIB lost 1.6pc to €1.44, having been well bid earlier in the session on the back of robust figures from its Polish unit Bank Zachodni WBK, which is up for sale.

Bank of Ireland dipped 2.3pc to €1.67. The group unveiled a €3.4bn equity-raising deal earlier this week, with a €500m placement with institutional investors almost four times over-subscribed.

The Government has committed almost €1.7bn to the deal, which will leave it with up to a 36pc stake. All told, the deal leaves about €700m that needs to be filled by old shareholders in a rights issue that will be priced in the middle of May.

Germany's DAX lost 0.2pc, France's CAC lost 0.6pc and the UK's FTSE 100 decreased 1.2pc. In Greece, the benchmark index soared 2.2pc after European Commission President Jose Barroso said he was confident a rescue package for the country would be completed "in days".

National Bank of Greece rose 2.9pc, having jumped more than 20pc in the past three days.

Mr Barroso's comments eased investor concern that the nation may default as Prime Minister George Papandreou started his sales pitch to the Greek people as unions denounced "unjust" budget cuts linked to a potential €120bn EU-led bailout.

Michelin rose 2.6pc as it said first-quarter revenue rose 12pc, led by a rebound in sales to truck makers in Latin America and Asia and to logistics companies.

Irish Independent

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