Sunday 20 May 2018

Stock markets suffer from March jitters

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange shortly after the opening bell
Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange shortly after the opening bell

World stock markets entered March on shaky ground, falling for the third straight day before the second leg of new US Federal Reserve chief Jerome Powell's testimony to Congress.

The testimony, due yesterday morning in the US, was coming two days after his hawkish comments ignited fears the Fed could deliver four US rate rises this year instead of the three already priced in, triggering an equity sell-off and pushing up bond yields.

The US dollar rose to six-week highs against a basket of currencies while the gap between short-dated US and German bond yields was at its widest since 1997.

MSCI's all-country equity benchmark fell 0.4pc after snapping a record 15-month long winning streak in February, while European stocks lost 1pc.

In Ireland, domestic news was dominated by the weather, but there was a slew of corporate results. CRH, Grafton Group, AIB, and Total Produce all reported full-year figures.

Independent News & Media held an EGM, where chairman Leslie Buckley stepped down after more than five years in the role.

The ISEQ Overall Index slipped 0.23pc. The Irish Stock Exchange and trading closed at midday due to weather conditions.

CRH's earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation hit a record €3.3bn, and its shares were 0.8pc higher at €27.50 in the early afternoon.

AIB was 2pc lower at €5.29, despite its margins improving and impaired loans falling. Total Produce shares were down 2pc at €2.35.

The UK's FTSE-100 was down 0.62pc by just after 2pm, while Germany's DAX was 1.26pc lower. France's CAC-40 was down 0.81pc.

Reuters

Irish Independent

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