European shares touched their highest level since the start of February on Tuesday as car makers and bank stocks climbed and Italian shares recovered.
In London, the FTSE 100 hit its third record high in one week, with stocks buoyed by signs of continued improvement in the trading relationship between the US and China.
US stocks all but erased gains to trade little changed as the optimism over trade agreements with China gave way to renewed concerns over tensions with North Korea.
The Iseq in Dublin was ahead by 0.2 per cent at the close. AIB rose 1.2 per cent to €4.96, while Bank of Ireland rose 1.9 per cent to €7.44, as Irish banks rode a wave of positivity that swept along the European financial sector.
Ryanair was ahead 2.6 per cent to €16.70, a day after its annual results. An analyst note on Tuesday morning speculated on the possibility of further share buybacks.
Tullow Oil fell more than 3 per cent to €3.10 despite a surge in crude prices. The stock has suffered this month following downgrades by influential brokers.
Marks & Spencer dropped to the bottom of the FTSE 100 after the retailer said it was going to close 100 stores by 2020. Traders took a poor view of the company’s prospects, sending shares down 8.6p to 291.8p.
Whitbread’s shares closed up 49p at 4,233p as a PA report said the company’s Costa Coffee chain is being circled by a clutch of private equity firms, opening the door to a potential £3 billion sale.
Royal Dutch Shell’s ‘B’ shares fell 14.5p to 2,826.5p amid news that 25.2 per cent of shareholders rejected Shell’s remuneration report over an €8.9 million euro package for chief executive Ben van Beurden.
Away from the top tier, Halfords’ shares fell 45.6p at 342.4p after the motor accessories and bikes retailer reported a 6 per cent fall in full-year profits.
Volkswagen, BMW and Daimler were among the biggest boosts to the Stoxx, up 1.5 per cent to 2.5 per cent, after China said it would cut the import duty on passenger cars and auto parts from July 1st.
Europe’s autos sector climbed 0.9 per cent and Italy’s Fiat Chrysler also rose 1.6 per cent. The latter helped Italy’s FTSE MIB gain 0.5 per cent and recover after being dragged down by political risk during the last sessions.
Italian bank stocks also rose 1.6 per cent as plans by anti-establishment 5-Star and the far-right League to form a government seemed to stall.
French telecoms stocks were also key players during the session after the head of the country’s telecoms regulator reignited talk of possible mergers in the sector, in comments to Le Monde newspaper. Bouygues, Orange and Iliad rose 4.1 per cent, 4.5 per cent and 7.3 per cent respectively.
Washington neared a deal to lift its ban on US firms supplying Chinese telecoms gear maker ZTE Corp, sources said on Tuesday, while Beijing said it will steeply cut import tariffs for automobiles and car parts.
That pushed up shares of Ford, General Motors and Fiat Chrysler between 0.6 per cent and 1.3 per cent, but the broader industrial sector dipped 0.4 per cent, a day after posting its best one-day per cent gain in nearly two months.
The energy sector advanced 0.6 per cent as oil prices rose on supply concerns. Among stocks, Micron jumped 6.7 per cent after the company announced a $10 billion share buyback program. Steel stocks gained, led by a 3.5 per cent jump in AK Steel and US Steel, after the United States said it would impose steep import duties on steel products that originated in China but were shipped from Vietnam to evade anti-dumping and anti-subsidy orders.
Kohl’s tumbled 6.9 per cent, weighing on other retailers, after warning of slower growth in the second half of the year. Macy’s fell 3.8 per cent. Toll Brothers sank 7.5 per cent after posting disappointing quarterly profit and margins, while its comments on costs hit other homebuilders. – (additional reporting: Bloomberg/Reuters/PA)Tags: AIB, Ak Steel, Bank of Ireland, Ben Van Beurden, BMW, Bouygues, Business, Chrysler, Costa Coffee, Daimler, Fiat, General Motors, Iliad, Kohls, Macy's, Markets, Marks and Spencer, Royal Dutch Shell, Ryanair, Shell, Tullow Oil, US Steel, Volkswagen AG, Whitbread, Zte