Mideast unrest weighs on sentiment
IRISH shares slumped yesterday, as losses across most sectors drove the market to its biggest percentage loss in a month.
By the close of trading the ISEQ Overall Index stood at 2,956.59, down 1.62pc, or 48.8 points.
The index plunged from the opening, and stayed down for the rest of the day, as traders got out of equities following a week of gains across most stocks.
The unrest in the Middle East weighed on sentiment for much of the day, with fears that potential rises in energy prices would fuel inflation and curb economic growth at the front of dealers' minds.
CRH was one of the big losers on the day, losing 1.35pc to close at €16.77 as the fear of an economic slowdown, particularly in the US, weighed heavily on the construction giant.
Inevitably, CRH's slide drove the rest of the contraction sector into losses on the day, with Grafton dropping 1.04pc to €3.68 and Kingspan losing 1.19pc to hit €6.55.
Mining stocks took a big hit as well, with Ormonde Mining losing 3.57pc of its value to close at 14c while Kenmare Resources plunged 10.2pc to 44c.
There were some winners on the day despite the widespread losses. Kerry Group climbed 0.99pc in anticipation of its results today while oil companies had a strong day as Brent Crude passed $105 a barrel. Tullow Oil added 1.17pc to €16.47 while Dragon Oil closed on €6.58 -- a gain of 0.32pc.
Elsewhere, national benchmark indexes retreated in all but one of the 18 western European markets.
The UK's FTSE 100 Index lost 1.1pc, while Germany's DAX Index and France's CAC 40 Index both declined 1.4pc.
Italy's FTSE MIB was the worst performing European market, slumping 3.6pc, the largest decline in more than seven months. The Stoxx Europe 600 fell 1.3pc.
"The political unrest in the Middle East appears to be getting worse and spreading to other countries," said Gregor Smith, a fund manager at Daiwa Asset Management in London. "It could push up the oil price. It would obviously have a negative impact for inflation, and could cause economic growth to be weaker than expected."
In London, Invensys jumped 3.7pc. The British manufacturing company is being stalked by engineers considering a bid, according to reports.
JJB Sports sank 17pc. The company said it raised £31.5m (€37.7m) in a share sale.
Hammerson gained 1.7pc. The company said full-year earnings excluding changes in asset values increased to £140.2m (€166.2m) from £125.3m (€148.5m) a year earlier.