ISEQ static despite positive US news
IRISH shares were little changed yesterday, as strong economic data from the US helped offset ongoing concerns about the European debt crisis.
By the close of trading the ISEQ Overall Index had gained less than 0.1pc, or 0.14 points, to close at 3,131.94.
The closing price, however, hid what was a rocky day on the Irish market. The index plunged as low as 3,103.28 before recovering in the afternoon.
Delays continued to dog efforts to resolve the Greek crisis. Policymakers now won't formally discuss a second bailout for Greece again until February 20.
Sentiment was boosted later in the day, however, after US unemployment figures were lower than expected.
The unemployment rate there fell to the lowest level since 2008 amid signs the economy may be recovering quicker than thought. Shares in most of the food companies on the Irish market climbed yesterday.
Glanbia added 4.25pc to reach €5.15 -- its highest closing price since May 2008. Kerry Group, which reports annual numbers on Tuesday, ended yesterday 0.93pc higher at €30.89. Banana maker Fyffes jumped 1.3pc to 39c.
Those gains were countered however by losses in the financial sector.
Irish Life & Permanent dropped 20pc, Allied Irish Banks slumped 15pc. Ratings agency Moody's Investor Services said it was reviewing the ratings of more than 100 banks around the globe, and downgrades may follow.
As in Ireland, European stocks were little changed. National benchmark indices declined in nine of the 18 western European markets yesterday. France's CAC 40 gained 0.1pc, while Germany's DAX lost 0.1pc. The UK's FTSE 100 slipped 0.1pc. The Stoxx Europe 50 lost 0.2pc.
"Greek concerns appear to be weighing down on markets," said Peter Dixon, global equities economist at Commerzbank.
"A Greek exit is certainly no longer off the table," he said, referring to the possibility of the nation leaving the currency union.
Rio Tinto Group slid 1.3pc as copper fell for a fifth straight session, heading for its longest slump since November.
Axa, Europe's second-largest insurer, declined 1.3pc. The company posted an 82pc drop in second-half profit, after it didn't repeat a gain from an asset disposal in the first half.
BAE Systems dropped 2.3pc after forecasting that growth will stagnate this year. Europe's largest defence company said the UK market will fail to grow in 2012 and US defence budget cuts will create "uncertainty".
Nestle, the world's biggest food company, climbed 2.1pc after posting 2011 sales growth that beat analyst estimates.