Markets upbeat despite US fears
It was a day for good economic data on both sides of the Atlantic, but European stocks still slid marginally over continuing concerns that the US won't reduce its fiscal deficit.
In Germany, unemployment levels rose less in December than economists had predicted. The number of people out of work in Europe's biggest economy rose 3,000 to 2.94 million. Spain's registered unemployment fell for the first time in five months in December as service industries boosted hiring over Christmas.
In Ireland, the ISEQ Overall Index dipped earlier in the day, but reasserted itself later to close up 0.64pc, or 22.21 points, at 3,478.41. It's now at its highest level since about early 2010.
Main movers included CRH, which declined 1.45pc, or 23 cent, to €15.62. The company said that it spent €630m on acquisitions last year. There's also speculation the group could be interested in acquiring a stake in an Indian cement maker. CRH CEO Myles Lee also said spending cuts in the US should be postponed until 2014 or 2015 until the economy there shows stronger signs of stabilisation.
Kenmare Resources shot up 9.2pc, or four cent, to 44 cent. Shares in the ilmenite producer have been trading in a low range since about October.
Shares in packaging group Smurfit Kappa see-sawed, opening down but rising as much as 1.4pc during the day before exiting the session just 0.7pc, or seven cent higher, at €9.25. The shares are among those that Davy Stockbrokers has said is one of its stock picks for 2013. It also listed British Airways owner IAG and Ryanair among the stocks it reckons will perform solidly this year.
Shares in pharmaceutical group Elan added 4.2pc, or 34 cent, to €8.33.
National benchmark indices gained in 15 of the 18 western-European markets. The UK's FTSE 100 added 0.3pc, while France's CAC 40 and Germany's DAX each slipped 0.3pc.
UBS, Switzerland's biggest bank, jumped 4.1pc to 14.85 Swiss francs (€12.28). Richemont, the world's second-largest luxury-goods company, rallied 5.7pc to 75.50 francs. Swatch Group climbed 6.4pc to 490.50 francs.
Fashion group Next advanced 2.7pc to £38.73 (€47.72). The UK's second-largest clothing retailer said full-year profit would be between £611m and £625m. The company had forecast pretax profit for the fiscal year ending this month of between £590m and £620m.