Monday 11 December 2017

ISEQ flat as traders await EU news

Peter Flanagan

Peter Flanagan

IRISH shares were little changed yesterday, as markets waited for news from the meeting of eurozone finance ministers to conclude, rather than make any significant moves during the session.

By the close of trading, the ISEQ Overall Index had risen only 0.04pc, or 1.33 points, to close at 3,174.48. The market had lurched into negative territory early in the day but an afternoon rally made sure the index barely got into positive territory by the end of the day.

The finance ministers of the 17 eurozone countries met in Brussels, with doubts beginning to show about the strength of a deal hashed out a fortnight ago that had been hailed as a first step to solving the eurozone crisis. Spanish bond yields hit 7pc while Italian debt also weakened.

Most of the movement yesterday involved volatile commodity stocks which swung wildly throughout the day. Petroceltic was the big winner, jumping 11.76pc to 9c. The company, which was awarded licences to explore for oil off Italy last week, enjoyed some heavy buying after the broker Peel Hunt listed the firm as a favourite for merger and acquisition activity.

Providence Resources jumped 5.93pc to close at €7.68. The company is enjoying a huge bull run on the back of an oil discovery in March, while oil prices have remained strong. Brent crude added 1.82pc to hit $99.98.

Laggard

The big laggard was also in commodities yesterday. Kenmare Resources slumped 9.85pc to 43c after its its Australian peer Iluka cut its forecasts for the year.

The doubts about Europe weighed on markets elsewhere while overnight news that Japanese machinery orders had dropped the most in a decade hit sentiment. European stocks declined for a fourth day.

National benchmark indices fell in 14 of the 18 western-European markets. Germany's DAX and France's CAC 40 declined 0.4pc. The UK's FTSE 100 lost 0.6pc. The benchmark Stoxx Europe 600 Index slipped 0.4pc.

"The main themes on the market remain the debt crisis and where southern European rates are heading," said Michael Borre, the chief equity analyst at Nordea Private Banking in Copenhagen. "That's why we continue to expect markets to stay nervous and volatile this week."

JJB Sports plunged 25pc after saying sales fell "materially short of expectations", as this year's European soccer championships did not provide the same stimulus to revenue as previous tournaments.

Recruitment firm Michael Page International dropped 3.8pc.

BAE Systems, the biggest British arms company, rose 1.4pc as the UK government ruled out further cuts to military programmes.

Irish Independent

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