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Iseq hits eight-month high as global markets cheer growth indicators

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Irish shares rose to an eight-month high on Thursday, driven by CRH, Kingspan and Bank of Ireland, as equity markets globally surged on the back of strong data from the world’s largest economies.

The Iseq overall index advanced 0.8 per cent to 7,126.57, a level last seen in May, while the pan-European Stoxx 600 index added 0.9 per cent, the FTSE 100 hit a record high and the Dow Jones Industrial Average in New York broke the 25,000-point level for the first time.

A US report published on Thursday showed that private employers in the economy added 250,000 jobs in December, the biggest monthly increase since March. Meanwhile, China’s services sector activity hit its highest level in more than three years, manufacturing data from Japan came in strong, and euro zone surveys showed the bloc enjoying its strongest run in nearly seven years.

Dublin
CRH jumped 2.9 per cent to €30.85 as analysts at Davy said that the group’s net profits this year may rise by an additional 5 per cent on the back of tax reforms enacted in the US just before Christmas.

Kingspan was also in demand, rising 3 per cent to €38.50, while Applegreen gained 2.6 per cent to €5.58 and Bank of Ireland added 2.4 per cent to €7.54, as investors sought out cyclical stocks.

Dublin-based DCC rose by as much as 1.2 per cent in London as the fuel distribution-to-IT services group entered the German liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) market through an acquisition estimated to have cost up to £80 million (€89.8 million).

Bucking the trend, Aryzta lost 6.2 per cent to close at €31.80, handing back some of its recent rally, while Glanbia fell 1.8 per cent to €14.05.

London
A rise in oil majors helped pushed the UK’s top share index to an all-time high on Thursday but below the level enjoyed by its European peers, as retailers hurt after a Debenhams profit warning and house prices weighed on the real estate sector.

The FTSE 100 index closed up 0.3 per cent at 7,696.50 after hitting a record of 7702.11 points after surveys showed Britain’s dominant services sector rebounded strongly last month.

A rally in cyclical sectors such as financials and energy drove the market, with BP and Shell rising 1.1 per cent and 1 per cent respectively.

Likewise positive metals prices also drove shares in British miners. Shares in Glencore, Anglo American and BHP Billiton rose between 0.3 per cent to 1.4 per cent.

The mood was less positive among retail stocks, however, as shares in small cap Debenhams closed down 14.7 per cent after a profit warning following a difficult Christmas trading period. Marks & Spencer was also down 3.6 per cent.

Europe
Banks Santander, BNP Paribas and ING were among the top boosts to the European market as increasing enthusiasm about the euro-zone’s recovery helped push money into financial stocks.

Erste Bank, Credit Agricole, UBI Banca and Natixis gained from 3.4 per cent to 5.1 per cent.

Better-than-expected US car sales data and rising oil prices also drove auto and energy stocks higher.

Remy Cointreau was a rare laggard, down 2.9 per cent after Investec downgraded the stock, saying Chinese anti-corruption measures could affect consumption of costly status symbol products such as cognac.

New York
The Dow Jones Industrial Average broke above the 25,000 level for the first time, propelled by the strong US private jobs numbers that added to a stream of robust economic data from across the world.

In early afternoon trading, the Dow was up 0.5 per cent, at 25,056.07 and the S&P 500 was up 0.42 per cent, while the Nasdaq Composite edged 0.2 per cent higher.

Banking giants Wells Fargo and JP Morgan rose after the strong data raised the odds of a US interest rate hike in March.

Victoria’s Secret-owner L Brands slid 12.5 per cent on disappointing quarterly earnings forecast.

Macy’s shares fell 7 per cent after reporting only modest growth in holiday sales and said it would close stores and slash thousands of jobs this year.

– Additional reporting, Reuters, Bloomberg

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