Tuesday 21 November 2017

ISEQ tumbles as Europe falls on weak US data

Traders are pictured at their desks in front of the DAX board at the Frankfurt stock exchange, Germany. Photo: Reuters
Traders are pictured at their desks in front of the DAX board at the Frankfurt stock exchange, Germany. Photo: Reuters

Irish stocks fell in line with the rest of Europe yesterday after the US posted surprisingly weak growth figures.

By late afternoon in Dublin, the ISEQ Overall Index was down by 2.8pc or 177.4 points to 6112.95.

Aer Lingus topped the leaders. It was up 1.3pc to €2.38 a share after posting a loss of €48m for the first quarter of the year. The results were broadly in line with expectations.

There was good news as the airline increased sales by 7.9pc to €280m following a strong performance in its long-haul division.

Other gainers included insurance firm FBD, which was up by 1.84pc to €9.93, and the Irish Continental Group, which saw its stock rise by 0.3pc to €4.

One of the biggest laggers was Bank of Ireland which tumbled by as much as 5pc after it warned that quantitative easing is denting the company's pension pot. Chairman Archie Kane said the lender was however benefiting from continuing momentum both in Ireland and the UK.

The bank, which hosted a shareholder meeting yesterday morning, also said the group's trading since the start 2015 is in line with expectations.

Other laggers included Ireland's biggest company, CRH, which saw its stock fall by 3.4pc to €25.52 on fears of a US slowdown.

Packaging materials giant Smurfit Kappa slumped by 5.17pc to €26.60 as International Paper declined to comment on takeover rumours.

Elsewhere, the Stoxx Europe 600 Index fell 1.1pc to 401.87 by late afternoon in London, reversing an advance of as much as 0.5pc.

It swung between gains and losses at least seven times and extended the decline after US data showed the world's largest economy barely grew in the first quarter.

Europe's benchmark gauge climbed 1.2pc this month, taking gains this year to 17pc. "European markets have gone up a lot during the first quarter on hopes that earnings are going to be good," said Pierre Mouton, who helps oversee $8bn at Notz, Stucki & Cie in Geneva.

"Now that we're in the earnings season, it shouldn't come as a surprise the market is a little bit more volatile."

Investors are also awaiting cues from the Fed on the timing of a rate increase, after the data pointed to a weakening US economy. The Fed will probably hold rates at a record low this month, economists forecast before a decision due after European markets close.

"There seems to be a period of wait-and-see regarding the Fed decision," Mr Mouton said. "For any substantial move higher we need good earnings and a strong US economy."

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