Euro holds steady after EU downgrade

Gold on track for the biggest annual loss in more than three decades

The European Central Bank  building in Frankfurt. The euro pared earlier losses after Standard & Poor’s stripped the European Union of its triple-A credit rating. Photograph: EPA/Boris Roessler

The European Central Bank building in Frankfurt. The euro pared earlier losses after Standard & Poor’s stripped the European Union of its triple-A credit rating. Photograph: EPA/Boris Roessler

Fri, Dec 20, 2013, 20:37


Wall Street stock prices rose today after the US government said the economy grew at its briskest pace in nearly two years, while the euro held steady, Gold prices rebounded from a six-month low, but were on track for the biggest annual loss in more than three decades, as investors dumped the precious metal after the US Federal Reserve decided to reduce its bond purchases. In Ireland, the Iseq index increased by 0.8 per cent and a number of stocks hit all-year highs. IFG jumped by almost a quarter.

DUBLIN
IFG Group soared after it said it received an approach which may lead to an offer to acquire its entire issued and to be issued share capital. The financial services group said shareholders should note, however, that the approach is highly conditional and preliminary in nature. “No assurances can be given that a formal offer will be forthcoming or that any transaction will occur.” The share hit an all-year high to close at €2.10, a rise of 23.53 per cent.

CRH and Bank of Ireland were the most traded stocks, with the construction and materials group closing at €18.17, a rise of 1.59 per cent, and the bank closing at €13, unchanged on the day.

Glanbia and FBD also hit all-year highs. The dairy food group closed at €11.40, a rise of 2.75 per cent, while the insurance business rose 0.95 per cent to close at €17.50.

LONDON
British stocks rose to a three- week high, with the benchmark FTSE 100 Index posting the biggest weekly gain in five months. It closed up 21.88 points, or 0.3 per cent. Tesco rose 2.6 per cent to 332.2 pence. The FTSE 350 Retail Index climbed 1.1 per cent, taking its two-day increase to 2.5 per cent.

Carnival advanced 3.3 per cent to 2,389 pence, its highest price in almost three months. Credit Suisse raised the world’s largest cruise operator to outperform from neutral, saying the firm is taking several steps to transform the business.

BAE Systems fell 4.5 per cent to 422.1 pence after saying talks to sell the Eurofighter Typhoon combat jet to the UAE have ended.

EUROPE
European shares rose for a third day, completing their biggest weekly jump since April, as insurers and banks rallied. ING climbed 1.9 per cent to €9.75. Italy’s Monte dei Paschi rallied 5 per cent to 17 cent and Banca Popolare di Milano Scarl jumped 2 per cent to 46 cent.

German healthcare provider Rhoen Klinikum jumped 5 per cent to €21.39, its highest price since June 2012. Shareholder B Braun Melsungen withdrew its lawsuit against Rhoen-Klinikum’s sale of clinics and other assets to Fresenius SE’s Helios unit, according to a statement.

Telenet Group Holding rose 2.9 per cent to €42.12 after Goldman Sachs upgraded the stock to buy from neutral, citing growth prospects.

Lundin Petroleum lost 7.8 per cent to 121.20 kronor, after Norway said the Swedish oil explorer drilled a dry well.

France’s CAC 40 added 0.4 per cent and Germany’s DAX jumped 0.7 per cent.

US
Data showing faster-than-estimated growth boosted confidence in the world‘s largest economy. Utility and technology shares rose more than 1 per cent to lead gains. Red Hat surged 18 per cent to $58.02. Adjusted earnings for its 2014 financial year will be $1.46 to $1.48 per share, the company predicted, up from its previous forecast of $1.36 to $1.38.

Responsys soared 39 per cent to $27.05. Oracle, the world’s largest seller of database software, agreed to buy Responsys for $27 a share, gaining marketing software that helps businesses sell to consumers. Oracle added 0.3 per cent, to extend its rally to five days.

Jazz Pharmaceuticals jumped 5.9 per cent to $121.46. The maker of the narcolepsy treatment Xyrem said it will buy Gentium, a rare-disease drug developer. – (Additional reporting: Reuter/Bloomberg)