ISEQ closes up by 0.16pc after strong afternoon surge on day of fluctuations
IRISH shares were little changed yesterday, as gains across a wide range of stocks just about outweighed losses elsewhere.
On the day, the ISEQ Overall Index closed up 0.16pc, or 4.55 points, at 2,812.41. It was a day of fluctuations for the index, which moved between gains and losses all day. Ultimately though, a strong afternoon ensured the bulls finished the day on top.
CRH was one of the big winners on the day, adding 1.29pc to €15.68 after the construction giant was rated a "buy" under new coverage from Berenburg Bank.
The company was also lifted by the expectation that new home sales in the US will be revised up from their reported level.
Commodity stocks had an especially strong day, in line with the rest of Europe. Oil, gold, silver, copper and platinum all rose yesterday on renewed demand from the Far East and expectations that reconstruction in Japan could drive prices up.
Oil and gas explorer Petroceltic rose 2.75pc to reach 13c while Petroneft rose 2.33pc to 61c. Kenmare Resources was up marginally by close of play.
Sandwich maker Greencore reacted to the formal confirmation that Ranjit Boparan was buying the long-coveted Northern Foods by gaining 1.21pc.
The banks all fluctuated as Finance Minister Michael Noonan said there was no consensus yet on burden sharing for bondholders. The prospect of a "mini-budget", which was hinted at by Mr Noonan, also put pressure on the financials. By the end of trading, Allied Irish Banks was down 7.04pc at 19c while Bank of Ireland had lost 1.06pc.
Elsewhere, national benchmark indices rose in 14 of the 18 western European markets. The UK's FTSE 100 Index rose 0.58pc, while in Paris the CAC40 climbed 0.54pc.
Germany's DAX gained 0.35pc while the composite Stoxx 600 Index advanced 0.5pc.
"There are opportunities to take advantage of some cheaper prices in equities, given the drop since the end of February," said Henk Potts, an equity strategist at Barclays Wealth in London.
"We believe the fundamentals look strong for equity markets and valuations are still below 10-year averages."
In London, Rio Tinto, the world's third-largest mining company, advanced 2.9pc. Xstrata gained 3.5pc. Copper, lead, nickel and tin climbed on the London Metal Exchange.
Sainsbury's sank 5.4pc, the largest decline since June 2009, as the UK's third-largest supermarket owner said sales slowed more than analysts had predicted.
ITV sank 5.1pc after Jefferies Group downgraded the broadcaster to "underperform" from "hold", citing "dire" consumer confidence numbers plus potential margin squeeze from commodity price inflation in the retail sector.
"We see downside risk to top line," said London-based analyst Nicholas Bell.