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ISE awaits end of Greek debt talks

IRISH shares were little changed yesterday, as markets eased their way into the new week and awaited resolution in the Greek debt talks.

By the close of trading the ISEQ Overall Index had added just 0.13pc, or 3.99 points, to close at 3,009.68.

The index fluctuated for most of the session, veering between gains and losses throughout the day.

Petroneft was the clubhouse leader in percentage terms, rocketing 17.65pc to 20c a day after a sell-off in the stock had been prompted by a City hedge fund divesting its holding.

Most exploration companies had a decent day, with Dragon Oil leading the charge. The Turkmenistan-focused oil company reported a 30pc increase in average production to about 61,500 barrels of oil or equivalents per day.

Aer Lingus traded up for most of the session, adding 2.82pc to reach 73c. The parent of British Airways, International Consolidated Airlines Group (IAG), said it was working to identify potential targets to be taken over. BA chief executive Willie Walsh is a former head of Aer Lingus.

On the other side of the board, food stocks struggled on Monday after Bank of America downgraded the European food and beverage sector to "underweight". Aryzta (down 0.57pc), Glanbia (off 0.39pc), and Fyffes (down 1.3pc), all struggled during the session. Greencore delisted from the ISEQ to gain full entry to the London market.

Elsewhere, European stocks climbed to a five-month high, led by a rally in banks, as Greece bargained with bondholders over debt relief and Germany floated the idea of combining Europe's two rescue funds.

National benchmark indices rose in 15 of the 18 western European markets. France's CAC 40 and Germany's DAX each gained 0.5pc, while the UK's FTSE 100 increased 0.9pc. Greece's ASE jumped 5.1pc, the biggest advance in three months. The benchmark Stoxx Europe 600 added 0.5pc.

"We are still very much in the hands of politicians and regulators and the statements that come out from them," Nigel Bolton, head of European equities at BlackRock International. "We are coming up to another summit. As long as we see the continuation of the progress that we started to see at the end of November, then I think the market can continue higher."

UniCredit, Italy's biggest bank, rallied 10pc while Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena, the nation's third-biggest, surged 14pc and Intesa Sanpaolo climbed 5.4pc.

UBS said Italian banks were more positive than expected and "far more confident than a year ago" after a conference held in Milan last week.

Elsewhere, Commerzbank gained 13pc in Frankfurt trading. Societe Generale climbed 8.6pc in Paris, a tenth day of gains for the longest winning streak since March 2009.

Irish Independent