Sunday 21 January 2018

Oil worries and US figures put dampener on market

Peter Flanagan

IRISH shares were down marginally yesterday as more trouble internationally forced oil prices up and held equities back, while disappointing data from the US also spooked traders.

The ISEQ Overall Index closed down 0.35pc, or 10.25 points, at 2,920.18. Traders bought early on, with the index topping 2,956 at one point before a steady afternoon sell-off ensured the index lost for the day. The late sell-off also meant it ended the week in negative territory, having opened on Monday at 2,943.35.

CRH was the big loser, after oil rose to a 29-month high in New York as forces loyal to Libyan ruler Muammar Gaddafi attacked key towns in the east of the country and fought with protesters in the capital Tripoli. That was bad enough, but a jobs report that showed US wages failed to keep pace with a surge in energy costs also hit the construction giant, which carries out much of its business in North America. The stock closed down 1.03pc at €15.91.

CRH was not the only construction stock to struggle. Grafton fell again on continuing poor sentiment following annual results released on Thursday. The builder fell 3.31pc to €3.50.

Despite the ISEQ posting an overall loss, most stocks finished the day with a gain.

The food sector in particular continued to thrive after good earning reports during the week from Glanbia, Total Produce and Fyffes.

Glanbia rounded off the week with a 1.14pc gain to close at €4.43, while Fyffes added 3.53 to top 44c. Origin Enterprises gained 4.11pc to reach €3.80. Across western Europe, national benchmark indexes slid in 12 of the 18 markets. The UK's FTSE 100 Index slipped 0.2pc, Germany's DAX Index lost 0.7pc and France's CAC 40 Index sank 1pc. The Stoxx Europe 600 declined 0.6pc.

"The quality of the jobs report isn't exceptional," said Benoit de Broissia, an analyst at KBL Richelieu in Paris. "The average salary isn't growing. The data wasn't a very big surprise. It's sufficient, but some expected better. The market needs to take a breath. Oil gaining also explains declines in stocks. The situation still isn't clear in the Middle East and North Africa."

Carrefour tumbled 4.4pc. The stock was cut to "sell" from "hold" at Citigroup.

WPP declined 2.6pc after the world's biggest ad agency reported a slower sales rise than rival Publicis Groupe.

Irish Independent

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