Friday 20 April 2018

Shares hold steady as gains offset by losses at small firms

Peter Flanagan

Peter Flanagan

IRISH shares were little changed yesterday, as big gains among some of the major stocks on the Dublin market barely outweighed losses among a host of small firms.

By the close in Anglesea Street, the ISEQ Overall Index had added 2.13 points, or 0.07pc, to close at 3,273.16.

The market spent much of the morning in the red and only an afternoon rally after good US housing figures prevented the index from closing lower.

In percentage terms, Merrion Pharmaceuticals was the big winner, surging 14.29pc to 24c, but CRH was the most notable leader. The construction giant, which makes up around a quarter of the Irish market, climbed 1.98pc to €14.15.

The number of new homes built in the US surged in September to the highest level in four years.

Starts jumped 15pc to an 872,000 annual rate last month, the most since July 2008 and exceeding analysts forecasts. CRH garners around half of its turnover in North America.

Speciality baker Aryzta climbed 1.3pc to €39. The owner of Cuisine de France bread rolls has recovered steadily since a lacklustre set of forecasts for next year hit shares a fortnight ago.

Mining plays had a particularly strong session. Kenmare Resources continued its topsy-turvy week, adding 5.73pc, while Ormonde Mining rose 8.94pc.

On the other side of the market, Aer Lingus slid 1.8pc to €1.09. Etihad chief executive James Hogan said on Tuesday he would look at acquiring the Government's stake in the former national carrier, but he has not been approached by the Government about it.

Elsewhere, European stocks rose for a third day, the longest winning streak in five weeks.

The Stoxx Europe 600 Index rose 0.5pc, while national benchmark indices rose in 16 of the 18 western European markets. The UK's FTSE 100 Index gained 0.7pc, Germany's DAX increased 0.3pc and France's CAC 40 climbed 0.8pc. Spain's IBEX 35 surged 2.4pc.

"There appears to be positive news regarding Spain," said Jakup Petur Baerentsen, a chief equity adviser at Nordea Private Bank in Copenhagen.


"The market has consolidated and we think that it will continue upwards."

Moody's kept an investment-grade credit rating on Spain late on Tuesday, citing a reduction in the risk of losing market access because of the ECB's willingness to buy the nation's debt.

Moody's assigned a negative outlook on the country's Baa3 sovereign debt, one step above junk, as it concluded the review for a possible further downgrade of its rating that it had initiated in June.

Royal Bank of Scotland rose 2.2pc as Britain's biggest government-owned bank agreed to exit the UK's Asset Protection Scheme.

Alcatel-Lucent climbed 7pc. France's biggest phone-equipment supplier said its China unit, Alcatel-Lucent Shanghai Bell, won a contract to deploy the largest share of China Mobile's new TD-LTE trial network rollout as it extends services to 10 cities.

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