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European stocks dip on beginning of second quarter

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Ireland’s top share index fell with other European bourses at the start of the second quarter, but stocks including Glenveagh and Cairn edged up on the day.

European stocks retreated on Tuesday as investors began the second quarter in a fragile mood amid international trade tensions and mounting pressure on big technology companies.

US stocks rose on the day with technology shares recovering from a sharp sell-off on Monday.

Dublin
Following the Easter weekend there was relatively light volume traded on the Irish stock exchange although housebuilders and financial stocks were quite busy on the day.

Some six million shares were traded on Glenveagh Properties on Tuesday helping its share price increase by 1.08 per cent to €1.12. Its peer, Cairn Homes, moved up 2.44 per cent to €1.844 albeit with far less volume. A report from myHome.ie found that house prices in Ireland rose 9.5 per cent year-on-year in the first quarter of 2018, down slightly from the previous quarter.

Although a relatively positive day for housebuilders, real estate investment trusts hadn’t such a good day. Green Reit dropped 0.53 per cent to €1.506 as Hibernia Reit fell 0.28 per cent to €1.44. Ires Reit, however, rose 0.58 per cent to €1.398.

Financial stocks were generally weak on the day, although all had decent volumes. Permanent TSB was the biggest loser, down 2.4 per cent at €1.952 after more than 1.3 million shares were traded. Bank of Ireland and AIB fell 0.84 and 1.27 per cent respectively.

Finally, following its decision to hold on to its Saunderson House unit, shares in Dublin-headquartered IFG dropped more than 9 per cent to €1.90. Volume on the Dublin index, however, was very light.

London
Shares in Sky closed up 2.1 per cent after Twenty-First Century Fox said it could legally separate Sky News within the group to allay British regulatory concerns about the channel’s independence under Rupert Murdoch’s ownership. Fox agreed in December 2016 to buy the 61 per cent of Sky it did not already own, but the deal has been repeatedly delayed by the British government and regulators.

Mining stocks were a bright spot as solid manufacturing data from China, the world’s biggest consumer of metals, boosted the price of copper to a one-week high. Shares in Glencore, BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto all rose between 0.3 and 0.7 per cent.

The FTSE’s muted start to the second quarter follows its worst first quarter since 2011, while March saw its third straight month of declines.

Europe
The pan-European STOXX 600 ended the day down 0.5 per cent after falling more than 1 per cent earlier in the session.

The tech sector dropped 0.8 per cent, after an overnight report that Apple plans to replace Intel chips in Macs with its own.

Reports of Apple increasingly going down the “insourcing” route have dented shares in Apple suppliers around the world, most notably Europe’s Dialog Semiconductor, down 3.5 per cent. STMicro shed 2.9 per cent, while ams declined 2.3 per cent and Infineon fell 2.1 per cent.

Outside the tech sector, food services group Sodexo fell 4.5 per cent after Goldman Sachs (GS) cut the stock to “neutral”.

Air France shares fell 4.4 per cent after the carrier’s unions called a strike for wage increases amid a wider labour stoppage across France paralysing rail services.

New York
Stocks slipped into the red for a brief period after President Donald Trump’s latest attack on Amazon but then quickly recovered.

Tesla shares gained after the electric automaker said it need not raise more capital this year while announcing it built 2,020 of its cheaper Model 3 sedans in the last seven days of March.

Viacom dropped after Reuters reported CBS Corp planned to make an all-stock offer that valued the media company below its current market valuation.

– Additional reporting, Reuters

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