Boffo box office for ‘Beauty and the Beast’ push up Disney shares
Possibilities on Donald Trump’s revised trade policy weigh down US markets
Beauty and the Beast: Stocks in the House of Mouse gave the Dow a big boost thanks to torrid ticket sales.
European stocks ended Monday’s session little changed after three days of gains, weighed down by declines in oil and gas shares and lenders.
Britain’s top share index, the FTSE 100, inched higher to set a record closing level, as falling energy stocks and banks were outweighed by rising consumer staples stocks.
US stocks fluctuated about 1 per cent below all-time highs, as oil fell toward $48 a barrel. The dollar slipped and Treasuries advanced as investors digested fresh signs that the US intends to rewrite the terms of global trade.
The Iseq finished the session ahead by 0.3 per cent, helped by decent performances from big-ticket stocks such as CRH and Glanbia.
Independent News & Media finished by 1.85 per cent, ahead of the release on Tuesday of its annual results. Investors will also look to the company to provide some reassurance on its acquisitions strategy, following a high-profile falling out between its chief executive and chairman over a bid for Newstalk.
CRH was up about 0.5 per cent after news emerged that it has agreed a $117 million deal to buy a US recycling company. Analysts predicted yesterday that CRH may splurge €1 billion on acquisitions in 2017.
Exploration minnow Falcon Oil and Gas surged by 55 per cent following speculation that the Australian government will lift restrictions on coal-seam drilling.
Defensive, dividend-yielding stocks such as consumer staples were in favour in a risk-off trade, with Reckitt Benckiser and Sainsbury among top gainers.
Cyclicals stocks slipped. Energy stocks were the biggest drag on the large caps, with BP falling 0.4 per cent and Royal Dutch Shell down 0.6 per cent as oil prices came under pressure.
British banks were led lower by Royal Bank of Scotland, which fell 1.6 per cent.
Lloyds shares were flat at around 69.3p, following news that it has recruited Russel Griggs OBE to spearhead an investigation into whether it should compensate customers who became victims of fraud by former HBOS staff.
Associated British Foods was a top FTSE gainer, up 1.6 per cent after Goldman Sachs upgraded the Primark owner to “buy” from “neutral”.
Vodafone shares dropped 0.9p to 210.5p after announcing plans to merge its Indian operation with Idea Cellular in a deal that will create the Asian country’s biggest telecoms firm.
Energy firms posted the biggest losses, falling for the first time in four days and tracking crude prices lower.
Deutsche Bank fell 3.7 per cent to the lowest this year after saying it will raise €8 billion by selling stock at a 35 per cent discount to last week’s closing price.
Hansteen Holdings rose 1 per cent after gaining as much as 7 per cent earlier as a Blackstone Group and M7 Real Estate venture agreed to acquire its continental European properties.
By mid-afternoon, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 0.03 per cent, while the S&P 500 had lost 0.17 per cent. The Nasdaq Composite dropped 0.05 per cent after briefly hitting an intraday record high.
Eight of the 11 major S&P sectors were lower, with the utilities index’s 0.79 per cent fall leading the decliners. Oil fell as investors continued to unwind bets on higher prices.
The US Federal Reserve’s conservative rate guidance is also keeping the market in check. A host of Fed officials are scheduled to speak this week, including chair Janet Yellen on Thursday.
Apple rose nearly 1 per cent, hitting a new record-high of $141.34 after Cowen & Co upgraded its price target on the stock. Caterpillar rose 2.4 per cent, providing the biggest boost to the Dow, after it reported a smaller decline in sales for three months through February versus period ending in January.
Walt Disney rose 0.94 per cent after the company’s Beauty and the Beast topped box-office sales. The stock was among the biggest boosts on the Dow.
– (Additional reporting: Bloomberg/Reuters/PA)