ISEQ gains on quiet day for stocks
IT was a quiet day for investors yesterday, with most European stock markets closed for the May Day holiday. That left less than a handful of bourses driving activity.
A number of economic indicators gave investors something to chew on. The big surprise of the day came from the US. Figures due to be released there yesterday were expected to show that manufacturing activity declined during April. However, it actually rose and expanded at the fastest rate in 10 months. That sent the Dow Jones Industrial Average index to its highest level since December 2007, while the mood in Europe -- notably the FTSE -- also lightened.
UK manufacturing activity in April expanded at a slower rate than had been anticipated.
The ISEQ Overall Index was among the few European stock markets open for business. It remained muted through the morning and early afternoon, but picked up the pace towards the end of the session. It closed up 1.15pc, or 37.10 points, at 3,261.55.
Much of the main focus of the day was on Aer Lingus, after Etihad confirmed it had bought a near 3pc stake in the Irish airline. Aer Lingus shares were almost 4pc higher in early trading and while they yielded later, they still closed up 1.8 cent, or 1.8pc, at 99.3 cent.
Shares in Ryanair, which owns almost 30pc of Aer Lingus, rose 2.2pc, or 9.3 cent, to €4.35.
Paddy Power edged very slightly higher, but its shares are now lining up to breach the €50 mark for the first time. They closed yesterday at €49.40 and have risen 53pc in the past year and 11pc since the beginning of January.
CRH advanced 1.5pc, or 23.1 cent in Dublin, while decliners included Bank of Ireland, which slipped 1.3pc to 11 cent and insulation group Kingspan, which fell 1.27pc to €7.78.
The FTSE 100 rose 74.45 points or 1.3pc, to 5,812.23 in London, the largest gain since April 17. The gauge fell 0.5pc last month as Britain slipped into a double-dip recession amid growing concerns that the euro-area debt crisis is deepening.
UK, Irish and Danish stock markets were the only ones open in Europe yesterday.
Lloyds jumped 8.3pc to 33.60 pence after pre-tax profit, excluding one-time items and asset sales, more than doubled to £628m. Total impairments fell by 36pc, helped by the lender's Irish and Australian units.
Royal Bank of Scotland, which is scheduled to report earnings on Friday, gained 4.2pc to 25.3 pence. Barclays rose 3.6pc to 226.2 pence and HSBC increased 1.8pc to 565 pence.
Imperial Tobacco rose 3.7pc to 2,556 pence after Europe's second-biggest tobacco company reported a 3pc increase in adjusted operating profit to £1.52bn in the six months ended March 31, helped by higher prices for cigarettes in the UK.