A flutter of cautious optimism on global trade helped European shares advance on Friday, sealing their third straight week of gains, although a turn lower on Wall Street after disappointing earnings undid some of the early advances.
Many investors were assessing their positions ahead of the weekend, with both the trade uncertainty and Middle East tensions still hanging over financial markets.
The Iseq index finished flat on a relatively quiet end to the week for the Dublin market.
Ryanair rose 0.75 per cent to €16.21, adding to Thursday’s gains, after talk about a possible takeover of Norwegian Air by Aer Lingus owner IAG gave European airlines a lift.
Kerry Group was one of the main fallers, ending 1.6 per cent lower at €82.00, while Independent News & Media slipped below the 8 cent mark, down 1.25 per cent.
Bank of Ireland, which named former Paddy Power chief Patrick Kennedy as its next chairman, was down just 0.1 per cent to €7.47, while building materials group CRH was also very fractionally in the red, finishing at €27.44.
Paper and packaging group Smurfit Kappa added 1.2 per cent to €34.48 as European paper-makers advanced, while Providence Resources was up 5.7 per cent at 13 cent and Irish Continental Group was up almost 2.2 per cent at €5.69.
The FTSE 100 closed up just 6 points as a plunge for Sage Group, the UK’s largest software company, weighed on the blue-chip index, while a rising pound weighed on big overseas earners.
Shares in Sage closed down 8.2 per cent, having early fallen as much as 20 per cent, the biggest drop since July 1993, after it posted a surprise warning that sales had failed to hit expectations.
Micro Focus was one of the biggest FTSE gainers this session, up 3.2 per cent, extending Thursday’s gains following a report that hedge fund Elliott Management had taken a stake in the British software firm.
Precious metals mining companies were in demand, with shares in Randgold Resources and Fresnillo up more than 1 percent as the price of gold, considered a safe-haven asset, remained firm.
However, British American Tobacco, one of the companies exposed to the rising pound, fell 1.3 per cent.
The Stoxx 600 held near one-month highs, ending the day up 0.1 per cent. Germany’s Dax, highly sensitive to trade and China, gained 0.2 per cent after US president Donald Trump made comments indicating he would want to avoid a trade war and rejoin the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade pact.
Cosmetics giant L’Oreal reported sales that beat expectations thanks to good performance from China and luxury cosmetics, but its shares closed just 0.2 per cent higher, with traders putting the muted reaction down to technical selling and profit-taking.
Klepierre shares rose 3.6 per cent after the French commercial real estate firm said it had dropped a bid for Hammerson and would not pursue a takeover of the UK firm.
Mining and industrial stocks were the best-performing, enjoying a boost from metals prices which surged higher this week after sanctions on Russian aluminium firm Rusal.
Banks led a slide on Wall Street on Friday, as results from big lenders including JPMorgan failed to enthuse investors keeping a wary eye on Russia’s plan to consider banning some US imports.
Shares of the biggest US bank by assets dropped 2.6 per cent, overturning an initial gain in premarket trading when the bank reported a record quarterly profit that fell slightly short of expectations.
Wells Fargo sank 3.1 per cent, also erasing initial gains, after the bank said it may have to pay a penalty of $1 billion to resolve investigations. Citigroup and the S&P banks index also fell around 2.5 per cent.
Dropbox fell about 7 percent after brokerage Instinet gave the cloud-based storage firm a “sell”-equivalent rating. – Bloomberg / ReutersTags: Bank of Ireland, British American Tobacco, Business, Independent News & Media, Kerry Group, Klepierre, L'Oréal, Market News, Markets, Norwegian Air, Rusal, Ryanair, Sage Group, Smurfit Kappa, Wells Fargo