| 8.7°C Dublin

ISEQ retreats after sharp declines


STOCK indices retreated in most European exchanges yesterday, including Ireland, after China ordered banks to put aside more deposits as reserves in an attempt to cool the economy.

In Dublin, the benchmark ISEQ retreated 45.71 points, or 1.5pc, to 3053.97 as the banks posted sharp declines and CRH slipped after a rival warned of challenging times in 2010.

Bank of Ireland declined 8pc to €1.50 after the bank held a special shareholder meeting to approve the transfer of loans to the National Asset Management Agency (NAMA). The bank also told shareholders it expected to receive a discount of no more than 30pc from NAMA on the loans it would transfer to the agency. Allied Irish Banks slid 10.8pc to €1.45.

"That's the way they trade at the moment, they just swing around. There's a bit of profit-taking after a good run and there's general weakness in the market too," a Dublin-based trader said.

CRH declined 1.4pc to €18.20 as rival concrete maker HeidelbergCement said it would rely on reducing capacity as it braced itself for a "challenging" year ahead. "Massive cost savings and lower energy costs" would help profitability, while capacity adjustments would stabilise prices, it said.


Exploration company Kenmare Resources extended previous gains, rising 7.3pc to 28c, after saying on Monday that warrant holders had invested €5m in the company. Rival Petroceltic International slid 10pc to 16c after it said it had hit a snag while drilling in a well in Algeria. Scaffolding company Siteserv dropped 12.5pc to 7c after it gave investors details of how it had restructured its debts.

In London, the benchmark FTSE 100 Index slid 0.7pc to 5,498.71 led by raw-material producers on China's efforts to cool the economy.

Tesco gained 0.8pc to £4.21 after record sales at UK and Irish stores over Christmas.

Stocks elsewhere in Europe declined for a second day after earnings from Alcoa of the US and Germany's Beiersdorf missed analysts' estimates and China raised reserve requirements for the nation's lenders.

Greek stocks fell sharply as the European Commission said there had been "severe irregularities" in the nation's statistical data, leaving the accuracy of the EU's largest budget deficit in doubt. Greece's ASE slumped 5pc, France's CAC 40 lost 1pc, while Germany's DAX sank 1.6pc.

Alcoa, the largest US aluminum producer, posted quarterly earnings that trailed estimates as the company conducted a higher number of metals trades that boosted revenue while carrying no profit.

Beiersdorf slipped 3.2pc to €43.78. The chemicals company said 2009 profit fell by a third to €379m as sales of beauty products and adhesive tapes slumped in the economic crisis.

Irish Independent