Markets lose faith in ECB, Fed moves

Wed, Sep 19, 2012, 01:00

EUROPEAN markets retreated yesterday as investors decided that the rallies sparked by initiatives from the European Central Bank and the Federal Reserve have been overdone.

“While central banks solved the liquidity problem, the fundamental issues haven’t been solved as southern Europe remains uncompetitive,” said Jeppe Christiansen, the chief executive officer of Copenhagen-based Maj Invest, which manages $7.4 billion.


AS USUAL, the Irish market more or less reflected its European peers. Packaging group Smurfit Kappa, which announced a €250 million refinancing round, was one of the better performers, adding 1.11 per cent to close at €7.5888. The stock has gained almost 8 per cent in the last week.

Index heavyweight the international building materials group CRH, which accounts for about a third of the Iseq, slipped 0.97 per cent to €15.31. Bookmaker Paddy Power gained 2.27 per cent to close at €56.40.

DIY specialist and builders’ merchant Grafton, whose subsidiary Atlantic Homecare is due to emerge from examinership this week, slid 1 per cent to end at €3.36.


LONDON’S benchmark FTSE 100 fell 0.4 per cent at the close, paring an earlier drop of as much as 1 per cent.

Volex, which makes power cords for computers and other devices, plunged 27 per cent to 187.5 pence, the biggest fall since January 2008. The company said operating profit for the year ending March 31st would be broadly in line with the last financial year due to a recent unexpected drop in demand from its largest customer in the consumer sector.

Aviva fell the most on the FTSE 100, down 4 per cent to 344.9 pence. Bank of America downgraded the UK’s second-largest insurer to underperform from neutral.

RBS led a gauge of bank shares lower, down 2.7 per cent to 267.1 pence. The shares had surged 23 per cent over the previous two weeks. Lloyds lost 2.5 per cent to 38.86 pence and Barclays fell 1.1 per cent to 225.4 pence.

A gauge of commodity stocks retreated for a second day as copper led metals lower. BHP Billiton, the world’s largest mining group, lost 1.4 per cent to 1,996.5 pence, while Rio Tinto, the third-biggest, was down 0.7 per cent to 3,193.5 pence.

Diageo gained 2.1 per cent to 1,718 pence after Morgan Stanley named the stock as one of the four “European staples” to own over the next six months.


THE STOXX Europe 600 Index lost 0.4 per cent to 273.8 at the close, the sharpest decrease since September 4th. The equity benchmark has still climbed 17 per cent from this year’s low on on June 4th as the European Central Bank approved an unlimited bond-buying programme and the Federal Reserve unveiled a third round of asset purchases.

Akzo Nobel, the world’s largest paintmaker, lost the most in a year after confirming that chief executive officer Ton Buechner would go on sick leave. Akzo Nobel lost 5.5 per cent to €46.16, the biggest decline since September 2011. Mr Buechner will take leave for a month to recuperate from fatigue on the advice of his doctor, Amsterdam-based Akzo said.

Peugeot retreated 4.3 per cent to €6.78, as a gauge of European carmakers was the worst-performing industry group on the Stoxx 600. Renault slid 4 per cent to €39.07, Fiat declined 4.3 per cent to €4.53 and preferred shares of Volkswagen slipped 2.3 per cent to €148.10.

Arkema dropped 4.4 per cent to €71.69 even as the French maker of industrial chemicals said it would increase its dividend payout and raised its profitability target for 2016.

Nestle, the world’s largest food company, gained 0.8 per cent to 59 Swiss francs, while Anheuser-Busch InBev advanced 1.2 per cent to €65.83.

The ASE Index climbed 2.9 per cent after Greek finance minister Yannis Stournaras said his country’s budget deficit would be in line this year with the €14.8 billion target promised to international lenders. National Bank of Greece jumped 7.3 per cent to €2.05, while Alpha Bank rallied 7.7 per cent to €1.68.


US STOCKS ended flat to slightly lower after bellwether FedEx cut its profit forecast and investors pulled back after last week’s rally on central bank stimulus.

Shares of FedEx fell 3.1 per cent to $86.55. FedEx cut its profit forecast for 2013, saying that a weakening world economy had prompted customers to shift toward lower-priced shipping.

Apple, which broke sales records with its new smartphone, provided some support to the market. Apple stock set another all-time high at $702.33 before ending at $701.91, up 0.3 per cent.

Advanced Micro Devices tumbled 9.7 per cent to $3.62 a day after the company said its chief financial officer was leaving the struggling personal computer chipmaker. – (Additional reporting Bloomberg)