Dublin traders eye surge in AIB trading volumes

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European stocks finished lower on Thursday, despite early gains for euro zone markets, while the FTSE 100 slipped as sterling climbed and oil majors wobbled as investors eyed a meeting of oil exporters’ bloc Opec later in the day.

The Iseq ended 0.7 per cent lower, as European shares lost ground and the index’s biggest stock, building materials group CRH, fell 2.6 per cent to €28.95, erasing its recent gains. Ryanair also dragged down the market, slipping 0.75 per cent to €17.55, lagging the aviation sector performance across Europe.

But the main feature of the session for traders was the massive volumes for AIB. More than 90 million shares in the bank traded, compared to a typical volume of 3 million shares.

The surge in activity was the result of an index re-weighting that meant AIB was included in various FTSE indices. The stock closed up 1.6 per cent at €5.45.

Hibernia Reit rose 1 per cent to €1.85, while Green Reit, which holds its annual meeting on Friday, rose 0.3 per cent to €1.50.

Paddy Power Betfair fell 2.1 per cent to €93.69 on a day when bookmakers underperformed. Food stocks advanced, with Glanbia rising 2.3 per cent to €15.65 and Origin Enterprises up 3 per cent at €6.82. On the London market, Irish-owned Greencore recorded its fourth consecutive gain.

The FTSE 100 of blue-chip shares fell 0.9 per cent, as big names such as AstraZeneca, Prudential and GlaxoSmithKline all dropped more than 2 per cent. The FTSE 250 also ended lower.

Shares in the Daily Mail & General Trust sank 24 per cent after the publisher reported a 13 per cent decline in full-year pretax profit, took £206 million in impairment charges and gave a disappointing outlook. The media sector is one of the worst-performing sectors on stock markets this year.

Mediclinic, a private hospital group, rose 4.7 per cent after analysts at brokerage Jefferies upgraded their recommendation on the stock to “buy”.

Energy stocks were mixed in morning trading as investors held their breath ahead of the Opec meeting in Vienna, which agreed a cut in production until the end of 2018.

Shares in Marston’s rose almost 10 per cent after the British pub operator said strong sales and tighter cost control helped it post a near 3 per cent rise in annual profit.

The EuroStoxx 50 benchmark ended the day in negative territory, as an initially upbeat mood gave way. In Germany, the Dax fell 0.3 per cent, while France’s Cac 40 dropped almost 0.5 per cent.

Car manufacturer Volkswagen rose 1.8 per cent a day after its chief executive Matthias Mueller said the company was heading for record group sales this year.

Banks advanced in early trading, with Switzerland’s Credit Suisse Group and Italy’s Unicredit and Intesa Sanpaolo all making gains, although the mood had softened by the afternoon.

New York
On Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average opened above the 24,000 mark for the first time on Thursday, supported by a rebound in technology stocks and the sense that progress had been made on president Donald Trump’s tax-cut plan. The Republican bid to push through tax legislation gathered pace with the endorsement of Senator John McCain, providing fresh support for US stocks.

Tech stocks had been subjected to a broad sell-off during Wednesday’s session, with shares of, Apple, Google parent Alphabet and Facebook dropping between 2 per cent and 4 per cent, and Netflix sliding 5.5 per cent.

The sector recovered in early trading on Thursday in New York, although Twitter was trading down 0.6 per cent. The broader S&P 500 index hit a fresh high.

– (Additional reporting: Bloomberg / Reuters)

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