IRISH shares remained in positive territory yesterday, albeit only slightly, as shares completed a fourth successive day in the black.
By the closing bell, the ISEQ Overall Index was up 0.33pc, or a total of 9.86 points, on another day of little activity. The index headed into positive territory for most of the day and stayed there, at one point reaching as high as 2,999, before falling back.
Providence Resources was the star of the day after the oil and gas explorer said it would raise £41m (€48m) through a share placement to fund a new drilling programme. The stock led the index, closing up 9.64pc at €3.07. It was not the only oil company to end the day on the way up, with Petroneft also adding 2.03pc to close at 76c.
The banks had another good day, with Allied Irish Banks adding 2.16pc and Bank of Ireland gaining 3.72pc to hit 39c. Irish Life & Permanent was little changed.
There was little movement on the negative side for stocks, although Smurfit Kappa fell again, slipping 1.12pc yesterday to close at €8.85.
Elsewhere, European stocks rose for a fourth day, pushing the Stoxx Europe 600 Index to a two-and-a-half-year high, as earnings from Heineken and Societe Generale beat estimates while US housing starts topped forecasts.
National benchmark indexes climbed in 15 of the 18 western European markets. The UK's FTSE 100 increased 0.8pc and Germany's DAX added 0.2pc, while France's CAC 40 advanced 1pc. The Stoxx Europe 600 rose 0.4pc.
"2011 is going to be a good year for equities," said Robert Halver, head of research at Baader Bank in Frankfurt.
"The big economic framework is very fine and earnings are good. I see no clear end of the rally."
Heineken advanced 3.1pc after the brewer reported full-year earnings before interest and taxation, excluding one-time items, of €2.61bn.
Societe Generale surged 4.9pc after fourth-quarter net income quadrupled to €874m, boosted by a turnaround at its Russian unit and on fewer writedowns at the corporate and investment bank.
Sanofi gained 3.5pc, the largest advance in a month. France's biggest drugmaker agreed to buy Genzyme for at least $20.1bn (€14.8bn), ending a nine-month pursuit of the US biotechnology company.
Siemens climbed 2.2pc, a three-year high, as Barclays initiated coverage of Europe's biggest engineering company with an "overweight" recommendation.
Clariant plunged 13pc, the biggest drop since February 2003. The world's largest maker of printing-ink chemicals agreed to buy private equity-owned Sued-Chemie to expand in chemical catalysts used in the oil and automotive industries.