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ISEQ rockets to 18-month high

IRISH shares soared to their highest level in more than 18 months after strong unemployment figures in the US combined with encouraging debt auctions in Europe to push stock higher.

By the close of trading, the ISEQ Overall Index had added 2.87pc, or 84.83 points, to close at 3,037.07 -- its highest close since May 2010.

It was the fifth day of gains for the ISEQ, which had been pushing the 3,000 barrier for some time. The index has risen more than 300 points in the last month.

Unlike most sessions in recent days, there wasn't a big jump at the opening followed by a day of consolidation or steady decline; rather, the index gained consistently as more buyers entered the market followed by a spike in the last hour of trading. The close was the highest point of the day.

In percentage terms the big winner on the session was Readymix, which rocketed 533.33pc to 19c after reporting a potential takeover of the company.

The banking sector had a strong day, with Bank of Ireland jumping more than 13pc amid heavy trading, to close at 10c while Allied Irish Banks climbed 8.47pc to end at 6c.

The buying was not confined to any one sector during the day. Aer Lingus added 9.09pc to reach 72c while the food sector enjoyed a profitable day as well.

Aryzta rose 1.98pc to top €36 while Greencore closed 5.77pc higher at 66c.

There were few laggards on the day but one of those was Petroneft, which slumped 7.44pc to 20c. Market sources said a hedge fund had been liquidating its position in Petroneft over the past few sessions and is thought to have completed that process yesterday.

European stocks gained for a fourth day, extending a five-month high for the Stoxx Europe 600 Index, as Spain and France sold bonds at lower yields and fewer Americans than forecast filed claims for jobless benefits.

National benchmark indices rose in all of Europe's 18 western markets, except Iceland. France's CAC 40 increased 2pc and the UK's FTSE 100 gained 0.7pc, while Germany's DAX Index climbed 1pc. The Stoxx Europe 600 rose 1.2pc.

"The results from the Spanish and French bond sales are good," said Manish Singh, the London-based head of investment at Crossbridge Capital.

"But the debate on the Greek debt deal with private investors is damping the optimism," he added.

Commerzbank surged 15pc, the biggest jump since October. A gauge of banks outperformed all 19 industry groups in the Stoxx 600, climbing 6.2pc.

BNP Paribas jumped 8.2pc while Deutsche Bank rallied 8.4pc; Barclays gained 10pc as Morgan Stanley named them all among its "most preferred" bank stocks.

Irish Independent