ISEQ slips 2.2pc as this year's gains wiped out in one session
IRISH shares posted their biggest fall since early December, dragged down by the banks, as investors rushed to safer assets from the struggling peripheral members of the eurozone.
The ISEQ closed down 65.47 points, or 2.2pc, at 2,951.06, its worst one-day decline since December 8. The fall wiped out all of this year's gains and left the ISEQ nursing losses. Benchmarks elsewhere also fell but less dramatically.
France's CAC 40 lost 1.2pc, while Germany's DAX slipped 0.5pc and Britain's FTSE 100 declined 1.1pc.
Allied Irish Banks pared earlier declines to close down 9.7pc at €1.22, while Bank of Ireland slid 5.1pc to €1.31.
"Within Europe, Allied (Irish) and the Greek banks seem to be the worst performing," one Dublin trader said. "It seems to be negativity toward those countries who are under more sovereign debt pressure."
CRH, the benchmark's biggest stock, fell 3.5pc on a bad day for Europe's cement makers. CRH and German rival HeidelbergCement posted significant declines after Cemex, the largest cement maker in the Americas, reported a fourth-quarter loss and a 17pc drop in sales.
Tullow Oil dropped 5.9pc after the Irish-founded explorer raised £925m (€1.07bn) in London selling 80.4 million new shares at £11.50 each.
PetroCeltic International gained 1c, or 7.4pc, to close at 15c. This newspaper mistakenly reported the previous day on these pages that the company planned to sell shares. We apologise for this mistake.
Kenmare Resources rose 3.9pc after it said earlier this week that its titanium mine in Mozambique raised production in the final quarter of last year.
Stocks elsewhere in Europe declined amid mounting concern governments and central banks will take steps to remove stimulus measures as the global economy recovers. The European Central Bank may take further steps in the first half of the year to withdraw liquidity from the banking system, council member Axel Weber said.
National Bank of Greece led a slump by Greek shares as the European Commission said the country had not done enough to plug its budget deficit.
Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria dropped the most since March after Spain's second-biggest lender reported earnings that missed estimates.
The Dow Jones Stoxx 600 Index lost 0.9pc, falling to its lowest close since December 18.