Wednesday 24 January 2018

Little change on a day of confusion

German Chancellor Merkel and Taoiseach Enda Kenny
German Chancellor Merkel and Taoiseach Enda Kenny
Peter Flanagan

Peter Flanagan

IRISH shares were little changed yesterday, as markets tried to work out where Ireland's hopes for a debt deal stood after Sunday's communiqué from Angela Merkel and Enda Kenny.

By the close in Anglesea Street the ISEQ Overall Index had lost 0.1pc, or 3.29 points, to close at 3,236.95.

It was a market of contradictions. More than twice as many stocks rose as fell but losses among some of the bigger companies meant the market ended lower overall.

The market rose steadily throughout the morning and peaked above the 3,250 level at lunchtime, before trending down for the afternoon.

Ireland's supposed deal on its debt that the Government had trumpeted in June seemed to be back on after German Chancellor Merkel and Mr Kenny said Ireland was a "special case" at the weekend, but few investors seemed to know what exactly that meant. The Government "may breathe a sigh of relief" but "the timing and shape of any deal that Ireland may get on the legacy banking debt remains as elusive as ever," said Davy Stockbrokers' Conall MacCoille

Dragon Oil dropped 1.7pc to €6.85. Oil prices dropped yesterday, with Brent Crude dropping below $110.

CRH fell 0.9pc to €13.86. The building materials giant was hit as Caterpillar, a "bellwether" of the US construction sector, said sales in 2013 would be the lowest in four years.

Ryanair fell 0.5pc to €4.52. The budget carrier is apparently making concessions to EU regulators in an effort to have its bid for Aer Lingus accepted by regulators.

Elsewhere, European stocks fell for a second day as Japanese exports tumbled and investors speculated that victory in regional elections for Spain's Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy reduces pressure for him to seek a bailout.

The Stoxx Europe 600 Index slipped 0.4pc. National benchmark indices fell in nine of the 18 western European markets. The UK's FTSE 100 slipped 0.1pc and France's CAC 40 lost 0.3pc. Germany's DAX dropped 0.5pc. Greece's ASE surged 2.5pc, extending a six-week high.

"We have been a little bit defensive going into the year end," said Stephen Cohen, head of investment strategy in Europe, the Middle East and Africa at BlackRock's iShares unit. "The impact of central-bank liquidity is easing off a little bit so we are back to the big picture question -- can some of the big structural issues be resolved?"

Veolia, the world's largest water company, fell 4.5pc and Suez Environnement dropped 1.6pc after denying merger talks.

Philips advanced 5.6pc, the biggest gain in almost three months. The company said third-quarter earnings before interest, taxes, amortisation and one-time items rose 43pc to €562m.

Irish Independent

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