ISEQ stable but IL&P down 10pc
IRISH shares barely moved yesterday after a stabilisation in global oil prices shored up the market.
By the close of trading, the ISEQ Overall Index was off only 0.06pc, or 1.9 points, at 2,924.05. The index lurched into negative territory early and stayed there for most of the day, plunging as low as 2,893.39 before recovering after oil prices fell back in New York. A late rally brought the index back to near parity by the closing bell.
Irish Life and Permanent was the big loser on the day, slumping nearly 10pc after Fine Gael's Alan Shatter said there was "huge uncertainty" over home loan losses. IL&P is regarded as the biggest mortgage lender in the country. The lender closed down 9.94pc at 77c.
In contrast, Allied Irish Banks was one of the best performing stocks on the day, closing up 4pc, while Bank of Ireland was little changed.
Insurance company FBD was another laggard on a slow day, dropping 2.58pc to €7.55 after the firm reported a 40pc rise in operating profits for 2010 but said market-wide premiums must rise this year to compensate for the massive costs of exceptional weather events.
Commodity stocks had a mixed day, as precious metals and oil fluctuated. Ovoca Gold soared 11.11pc to 40c as gold fell back marginally from a record high of $1,445.70 an ounce.
Petroneft, the oil and gas explorer focused on Siberia, however, fell 3.43pc as oil prices slipped back. Dragon Oil suffered a similar fate, sliding 1pc to €6.92.
Across Europe, national benchmark indexes increased in 13 of the 18 markets yesterday. Britain's FTSE 100 Index and Germany's DAX Index added less than 0.1pc, while France's CAC 40 Index gained 0.6pc. The Stoxx Europe 600 rose 0.3pc.
"We have enormous pressure from the commodity side at the moment," said Andreas Lipkow, an equity trader at MWB Fairtrade Wertpapierhandelsbank in Frankfurt.
"The ECB and the Fed have to react right now and have to raise interest rates. Investors are very nervous and the way central banks will formulate the next steps is very important."
In London, Randgold, a producer of the metal in west Africa, sank 8.2pc, the biggest drop since 2009. Ivory Coast president Laurent Gbagbo took control of local purchases and exports of cocoa and coffee, escalating a conflict with political rival Alassane Ouattara.
Set-top box maker Pace slumped 20pc, the largest decline since 2004. As full-year net income fell, Pace also said that its sales would miss analysts' estimates this year after a customer deferred an order.
Telecommunication stocks advanced after Morgan Stanley raised its recommendation on the industry's shares to "maximum overweight". BT Group advanced 4pc. Vodafone gained 1.8pc.