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Shares rally on ISEQ as it rides wave of optimism across Europe

WILL it be a case of "sell in May and go away"? The ISEQ came close to finishing above the 3,000 mark yesterday for the first time since February.

The benchmark added 25.7 points, or 0.9pc, to close at 2,973.7 following a strong run from CRH, Elan and Ryanair which offset declines among the banks and Paddy Power.

National benchmark indexes rose in all western European markets yesterday except Iceland and Finland. The UK's FTSE 100 Index and Germany's DAX Index gained 0.6pc. France's CAC 40 Index climbed 0.2pc.

Dublin-based Elan, which has seen some volatility in US trading of ADRs in recent days, jumped 7.2pc to close at €5.24 while Ryanair closed up 2.4pc at €3.39 as the markets shrugged off concerns about rising oil prices. Aer Lingus advanced 4.1pc to €31.01.

Among the decliners were the banks which all posted declines and Paddy Power which slipped 2.5pc to €31.01 after news that Germany plans to open the sport betting market to private companies next year. Germany has traditionally banned most forms of gambling so local companies might now steal customers from internet companies.


European stocks also advanced, rebounding from earlier losses, as banks gained after Commerzbank and Intesa Sanpaolo announced capital increases and German factory orders rose more than forecast.

The Stoxx Europe 600 Index gained 0.2pc to 281.6 at the close in London. The benchmark index has increased 7.4pc since St Patrick's Day as investors speculated that the economic recovery will withstand Japan's earthquake and popular revolts in the Middle East and north Africa.

"I would expect that there will be some continued pressure for recapitalisation in the European banking sector going forward," said Valentijn van Nieuwenhuijzen, head of tactical asset allocation at ING Investment Management, which oversees $518bn (€361bn).

"It does help to take out the vulnerability from the European financial sector."

The European Central Bank is expected to raise borrowing costs today for the first time in almost three years as policy makers try to contain inflation.

"The long period of loose global monetary policy that started with the Lehman bankruptcy is coming to an end, but in a far less orderly and synchronized way than it started," stated an Exane BNP Paribas report.

Marks & Spencer surged 6.3pc, its largest gain in two years, after saying that its gross margin will rise as much as 25 basis points in 2012.

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