Markets rally on upbeat jobs news in US
European markets closed higher after stronger than expected jobs figures in the US. Non-farm payrolls indicated 236,000 jobs were created last month, beating expectations of a 160,000 increase.
Unemployment in the world’s largest economy also dropped from 7.9 per cent to 7.7 per cent in February, the best figures since December 2008.
The Iseq closed at 3,825 points after strong gains in the afternoon, driven by high trading volumes in banking stocks, reversed to leave the index broadly unchanged.
Bank of Ireland gained 7.5 per cent to 15 cent as investors bought into the stock ahead of its addition to the FTSE350 index next Friday. The stock’s entry to the FTSE brings increased interest in the bank as index tracking funds will need to buy shares in the company.
Other banking stocks also benefited from the boost. Allied Irish Banks advanced 6.3 per cent to seven cent and Permanent TSB gained 2.5 per cent to four cent.
Drinks maker CC Group shed 1.9 per cent to €4.73 after the stock was downgraded in an analyst note and Glanbia fell 4.7 per cent to €8.45 on light trade volumes.
UK stocks made steady gains as the FTSE 100 added 44 points, or 0.69 per cent to 6,484 points, marking a five-year high. The jump follows positive jobs data in the US, where FTSE 100-listed firms make over a quarter of their profits.
The FTSE 250 also took on 65 points, or 0.47 per cent, to 14,019 points at the close of trade in London.
Evraz, Russia’s largest steelmaker, jumped 5.6 per cent for the biggest increase.
Vodafone Group rallied 3.2 per cent as Bank of America reiterated its buy recommendation on the stock. Shares rose 9.5 per cent this week, the biggest gain since 2008, as people familiar with the situation said Verizon Communications is seeking to resolve its relationship with the firm this year.
The world’s largest supplier of mobile power supplies Aggreko lost 3.1 per cent to £18.79, the biggest decline on the index. Its shares had soared 10 per cent on Thursday after the company raised its dividend and forecast an average double-digit revenue growth over the next five years.
Thomas Cook Group sank 8.2 per cent to 75.8 pence, as the UK tour operator is due to hold a capital markets day and give a trading update next week.
European markets also posted strong gains following the US employment figures.
The FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares closed 0.9 per cent higher at 1,195 points and the euro zone’s blue-chip Euro STOXX 50 index added 1.4 per cent to 2,729 points, posting a weekly gain of 4.3 percent, its biggest weekly rise in nearly four months.
France’s biggest publisher Lagardere added 4.8 per cent to €28.81 after it posted 2012 net income of €89 million, compared with a loss of €707 million a year earlier.
Credit Suisse Group advanced 3.9 per cent to 25.97 Swiss francs after UBS raised its recommendation on Switzerland’s second-biggest bank to buy from neutral, citing its “solid” capital ratios and dividend outlook.
Stateside markets failed to maintain strong gains from positive jobs data.
For the week, the Dow was up 2.2 per cent, the S&P 500 was up 2.2 per cent and the Nasdaq was up 2.4 percent.
JPMorgan Chase made the biggest losses on the Dow and the S&P 500, down 1.3 per cent to $49.95.
McDonald’s gained 1.5 per cent to $98.57 after the fast-food hamburger chain said February sales at established restaurants fell just 1.5 per cent, a little better than expected.
Internet radio company Pandora Media shares jumped 18.2 per cent to $13.86 on stronger-than-expected quarterly results. – (Additional reporting: Reuters/Bloomberg)