Wednesday 21 February 2018

Markets soar on bout of euphoria

John Mulligan

John Mulligan

IT was a day for markets that must have left investors drunk with joy. Indices around the world rose yesterday, a sea of green tickers driving bourses to highs not seen since before financial calamity gripped economies in 2008.

Equity indices across Europe soared. In the US the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose to its highest level ever as profit growth among the country's leading corporations, coupled with unprecedented monetary stimulus, fuelled optimism.

Yesterday's gains came despite politicians still at loggerheads over the country's budget.

In Europe, stocks rose to a high not seen since August 2008 as strong economic growth in China continues.

China is planning to cut taxes and boost consumer demand this year to achieve a 7.5pc growth rate.

"After lagging for two days, European stocks and especially cyclical sectors are celebrating," said John Plassard, vice president at Mirabaud Securities in Geneva, which oversees about $28bn in assets.

"On the one hand, we have a confirmation of the perspective of the Federal Reserve continuing to support the economy, while on the other hand, growth in China looks to remain strong."

Ireland's ISEQ Overall Index was again on the crest of a wave and catapulted to another high not witnessed since before pre-crisis days.

It gained 1.85pc, or 70.63 points, to end the session at 3,880.98.

That's the highest close since October 3, 2008 – just three days after the bank guarantee scheme was announced. Within a week of that last high, the index lost 27pc of its value.

Movers yesterday included gambling firm Paddy Power.

It announced record pre-tax profits for 2012, at €139m, while net revenue climbed 25pc on a constant currency basis to €653.8m. Its shares soared 4.2pc, or €2.70, to €66.80. Cyclical stocks were also among the gainers.

Ireland's biggest company rose 3pc, or 51 cent, to €17.49, while shares in packaging group Smurfit Kappa added 2.6pc, or 31 cent, to €12.23 – their highest level since the company floated on the market in 2007.

Bank of Ireland continued its ascent, adding 3.4pc to close at just over 14 cent. Insulation maker Kingspan added 2.6pc, or 24 cent, to €9.28.

National benchmark indices climbed in all of the 18 western European markets except Greece.

France's CAC-40 added 2.1pc, while Germany's DAX rose 2.4pc. The UK's FTSE-100 gained 1.4pc.

Standard Chartered climbed 3.2pc to 1,837.5 pence, the highest price since December 2010. Britain's second-largest lender by market value said pre-tax profit rose to $6.88bn from $6.78bn a year earlier.

Fiat climbed 5.9pc to €4.14. Porsche added 4pc to €61.31.

Irish Independent

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