Monday 20 November 2017

Syrian crisis hits sentiment

John Mulligan

John Mulligan

EUROPEAN bourses were a mixed bag yesterday, treading water after just posting their biggest weekly gain since April.

The lacklustre performance came despite a rise in Chinese exports that was more than anticipated. But the spectre of military action against Syria by the US has weighed on sentiment. The world's biggest economy will decide this week on air strikes against the Middle East country after the alleged use of chemical weapons.

"Despite some reasonable Chinese economic data and the boost to Japanese markets following its successful Olympic bid, European shares remain under some pressure due to the ongoing uncertainties of the situation in Syria and the increasing likelihood of US quantitative-easing tapering," said Richard Hunter, the head of equities at Hargreaves Lansdown in London.

The ISEQ Overall Index had spent a chunk of the day in positive territory but edged into the red later. It finished the session down – albeit barely – dipping just 1.94 points, or 0.05pc, to close at 4,223.43.

Shares in Bank of Ireland were the most notable gainer, adding 1.7pc to finish at 23.5 cent. That gave the bank a market capitalisation of just over €7bn. The shares have risen from a 52-week low of 9 cent. The bank may call on shareholders later this year to stump up further equity as part of a process to buy out the State's holding.

Shares in oil and gas firm Petroceltic declined 3.3pc to €1.75. Releasing an interim report, it said that it had produced less oil and gas than expected in Egypt due to operational reasons.

Food groups were among the main losers. Kerry Group fell 2.5pc, or €1.20, to €46.20, while Glanbia lost 2pc, or 20 cent, to €9.50.

National benchmark indexes fell in 11 of the 18 western European markets. France's CAC 40 slipped 0.4pc, while Germany's DAX advanced less than 0.1pc. The UK's FTSE 100 declined 0.3pc.

Shares in Associated British Foods fell nearly 1.8pc to 1,818p in London even as it said its Primark clothing chain had performed better than expected in the second half.

Irish Independent

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