Wall Street reached new record highs on Tuesday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average racing past the 26,000 mark for the first time less than a fortnight after it first closed above the 25,000 level. The blue-chip index eased from its peak as a pullback in oil prices weighed on energy stocks, however.
European shares ended little changed as losses among commodity stocks more than offset initial gains due to a series of well-received trading updates.
The Iseq index edged down about 0.4 per cent as its leading stocks struggled for momentum. Ryanair managed to stay above the €16 mark, but slipped in the last hour of trading to close down slightly at €16.03. Building materials group CRH fell 0.6 per cent to €30.19, while food company Kerry was down 0.4 per cent at €89.50.
Paper and packaging group Smurfit Kappa was among the climbers, adding 0.8 per cent to €28.92, while Bank of Ireland added 1.1 per cent to €7.97.
Glenveagh Properties rose 0.7 per cent to €1.24 on a day when it announced four senior management appointments.
Oil and mining companies dragged Britain’s FTSE 100 index to a negative close, tracking energy and metals prices lower, after gaining earlier in the session on a fall in sterling. The blue chip FTSE 100 index ended down 0.28 per cent.
BP slid 2.9 per cent after the energy company said it would take a charge of around $1.7 billion in its fourth-quarter results as part of the settlement of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill.
Weaker Brent crude prices also weighed on the energy sector, while a slide in copper prices pulled BHP Billiton, Glencore, Rio Tinto and Anglo American down by between 1.4 and 3 per cent.
Penneys and Primark-owner Associated British Foods advanced 2.3 per cent on the back of a Barclays upgrade to “overweight” from “equal weight”.
JD Sports saw its shares jump more than 6 per cent after it raised its guidance following a strong Christmas trading performance.
The pan-European Stoxx 600 index ended flat, while euro zone stocks added 0.3 per cent as the euro gave up some of its strength against the dollar. In Germany, the Dax added 0.35 per cent, while the French Cac 40 was up less than 0.1 per cent.
Fashion house Hugo Boss was among the biggest gainers in Europe, up 3.7 percent, after it reported a rebound in growth at its own stores, a jump in online sales and a recovery in the US.
Peugeot-brand owner PSA Group rose 1.8 per cent after reporting a 15.4 per cent jump in worldwide sales for 2017, while Volkswagen added 2.3 per cent. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles fell 4.2 per cent after the company’s chief executive said he had no intention of breaking up the company
Deutsche Bank lost 0.8 per cent after it was accused in a lawsuit of conspiring to rig a Canadian benchmark rate.
Upbeat results propelled equities to record highs. UnitedHealth rose 2.5 per cent after the largest US health insurer reported results that beat estimates and raised its 2018 earnings outlook. Citigroup rose 1.13 per cent after the lender reported a profit that topped expectations.
Merck surged more than 7 per cent after early results from a key study showed its blockbuster drug Keytruda and two chemotherapy medicines helped lung cancer patients live longer and stopped the disease from advancing.
General Motors rose 2 per cent after the company said it expected earnings in 2018 to be largely flat, but that profits should pick up pace in 2019.
General Electric fell about 4 per cent after raising the prospect of breaking itself up and announced more than $11 billion in charges from its long-term care insurance portfolio and new US tax laws.
– Additional reporting: Reuters / BloombergTags: Associated British Foods, Business, Citigroup, General Electric, General Motors, Hugo Boss, Market News, Markets, Merck, Psa Group, UnitedHealth Group