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ISEQ rises fourth day in row as IMF to hike war chest

IRISH shares rose for the fourth consecutive day yesterday, amid news that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) would seek to beef up its lending resources combined with progress on averting a disorganised default by Greece.

By the close of trading the ISEQ Overall Index had added 0.28pc, or 8.22 points, to reach 2,952.24.

That was the fourth modest gain in a row by the index, with most major stocks adding value during the session.

The IMF aims to increase its resources to safeguard the global economy after identifying a potential need for $1trn (€780bn) in financing in coming years, a spokesman said in a statement.

Greece is said to be close to a deal with private creditors that would give them cash and securities with a market value of about 32c per euro of government debt.

Smurfit Kappa was the leading major stock mover yesterday, surging up 4.3pc to €5.58. Bank of America upgraded the packaging firm to "buy" yesterday.

CRH had a strong day, adding 1.28pc to close at €15.40 while Grafton Group rose 1.58pc to €2.63.

Despite the broad based gains, there were losses, with Tullow Oil the main laggard on the day. The exploration company slumped 4.86pc after it missed its guidance on production targets for 2011.

Tullow's problems hit the oil and gas sector more generally, with Petroneft (down 2.27pc) and Petroceltic (off 18.18pc) also struggling. Oil fell in New York to under $111 a barrel.

Elsewhere, national benchmark indices climbed in 12 of the 18 western European markets. The UK's FTSE 100 Index rose 0.2pc, Germany's DAX Index advanced 0.3pc and France's CAC 40 Index slipped 0.2pc. The Stoxx Europe 600 was little changed.

The market "couldn't make its mind up as to whether it should test the year's highs or head lower," said Angus Campbell, head of sales at Capital Spreads. "The only news flow that caused a bit of excitement earlier was when the IMF announced it wanted to boost its coffers. Unfortunately for the bulls, the resultant rally was very short lived."

Hedge fund

Man Group jumped 6.8pc, rebounding from yesterday's 2.9pc retreat. The world's largest publicly traded hedge fund announced plans to reduce costs by $75m after assets under management fell 9.5pc in the fourth quarter.

Funds declined to $58.4bn at the end of December from $64.5bn three months earlier. That met the estimate of some analysts.

"Today's leaderboard is filled with rebound stocks," said Will Hedden, a sales trader at IG Index in London.

"Hedge fund Man Group, who had a torrid autumn, has rallied. Essar Energy have regained 8pc after being obliterated yesterday by the sales-tax decision in India."

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