ISEQ down 1.11pc after losses in finance and construction stocks
IRISH shares dropped yesterday, as losses in the construction and finance sectors outweighed a big gain by IFG following takeover speculation.
By the close of trading the ISEQ Overall Index had lost 1.11pc, or 33.12 points, to close at 2,943.17, a second straight loss.
The market was driven mainly by CRH and Grafton, who both put out interim management statements yesterday.
CRH dropped 2.46pc to €16.23 despite saying that performance in the first half of the year has been broadly in line with expectations so far.
The stock had been trading up in the last few weeks, touching its highest point since the end of March last Friday.
Building materials firm Grafton Group slid 1.92pc to €3.38 after it said demand in Ireland remained weak during the first four months of the year.
Those losses inevitably hit sentiment in other construction stocks, with Kingspan dropping 0.91pc to €6.50.
The banks had another tough day, with Allied Irish Banks and Irish Life and Permanent plunging 7.4pc and 4.3pc respectively. NAMA said it may take on another €3.5bn of assets from the country's banks.
Bank of Ireland was little changed.
Elsewhere, Kenmare Res-ources fell 3.99pc to 48c despite the company saying industrial action in Mozambique would not effect its plans to ramp up ilmenite production to 1.2m tonnes by 2012.
On the other side of the board stocks were led up by financial services group IFG, which rocketed 16.67pc on a possible takeover bid.
The company said it had been approached by an unnamed party.
Independent News and Media gained 1.22pc after NCB Stockbrokers reiterated its "buy" recommendation on the stock.
Away from Ireland, European stocks slid for a second day as companies from Holcim to Vestas Wind Systems reported earnings that missed estimates and a report showed US service industries expanded at the slowest pace in eight months.
National benchmark indexes fell in all 18 western European markets. The UK FTSE 100 tumbled 1.6pc and Germany's DAX slid 1.7pc. France's CAC 40 declined 1.3pc. The Stoxx Europe 600 Index sank 1.4pc.
"Given how many companies have both come in line or outperformed earnings expectations, it raises the bar of expectation and makes it harder for those companies yet to report to satisfy investors," said Joshua Raymond, a market strategist at City Index in London.
"The weaker equity session we are seeing is more about profit-taking than anything else".
Holcim slid 4.1pc in Swiss trading. The company reported first-quarter profit that fell short of analysts' estimates as raw-material costs climbed and governments postponed infra- structure projects.
Vestas tumbled 8pc after posting a first-quarter net loss more than twice as big as the average analyst estimate.