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Shares surge on end of uncertainty

IRISH shares soared yesterday, with the index rallying after three days of losses as the formal announcement of the general election and dissolution of the Dail finally ended the political uncertainty, supplementing strong data from China.

By the close of trading, the ISEQ Overall Index had gained 2.62pc, or 74.8 points, to close at 2,927.61. It was a day of steady buying on the index, which opened up and followed an upward trend for the rest of the day. The index reached its highest point at the closing bell.

The banks were the big beneficiaries of the end to the uncertainty, with all three posting strong gains on the positive sentiment.

Allied Irish Banks added 5.17pc to close at 24c, while Irish Life & Permanent claimed 5.83c to reach 91c by the end of the day. Bank of Ireland, which was given the go-ahead to restart paying discretionary coupons by the European Commission, closed at 34c, an 11.5pc gain.

Away from the banks, it was a broadly positive day on the index, with winners across the board as purchasing managers indices signalled continued expansion in China and the UK.

One of those was Greencore, with the sandwich-maker gaining 4.3pc following chief executive Patrick Coveney's comments at Monday's annual general meeting. Mr Coveney reiterated that his firm was undecided about trying to make a new bid for Northern Foods. The sandwich-maker rose 4.3pc to €1.15.

Losers were few and far between, although Elan stumbled, losing 2pc in anticipation of its fourth-quarter results, due to be announced after the close of trading. Aer Lingus also fell marginally, closing down 0.97pc at €1.02.

Across western Europe, national benchmark indices rose in all of the 18 markets, except Sweden. Germany's DAX Index rallied 1.5pc, the UK's FTSE 100 advanced 1.6pc and France's CAC 40 gained 1.7pc. Greece's ASE soared 4.4pc to the highest level since September. The Europe Stoxx 600 rallied 1.5pc.

UK manufacturing expanded in January at the fastest pace since 1992, driving a wave of buying in London.

"Today's figures point to a robust manufacturing recovery that appears to be gathering steam, and may give some cheer to observers of the UK economy still reeling from the dismal fourth-quarter numbers released last week," said Simon Hayes, chief UK economist for Barclays.

Anglo American, BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto all climbed by more than 1pc as copper advanced to record highs in London and New York. Semi-conductor maker ARM soared 6.1pc after a 72pc jump in fourth-quarter profit.

In Frankfurt, Metro, Germany's largest retailer, climbed 3.3pc as UBS upgraded the stock to "buy" from "neutral".

Irish Independent