Markets subdued by poll from Italy
European stock markets were subdued yesterday as early gains were erased by an opinion poll in Italy that suggested that former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi's anti-austerity campaign has boosted his re-election chances.
The Iseq closed down 0.4 per cent after modest advances in the morning gave way to an afternoon slump. However, a number of major shares made strong gains.
Ryanair soared 5.6 per cent to €5.60 after Flybe said it had reached an agreement with Ryanair to create Flybe Ireland in the event of a successful bid by Ryanair for Aer Lingus.
Meanwhile, Aer Lingus rose 0.8 per cent to €1.30 after it delivered full-year results described as "impressive" by analysts at Goodbody Stockbrokers, with strong revenues from both short-haul and long-haul.
The most traded stock was paper and packaging group Smurfit Kappa, which closed up 4.6 per cent at €10.51 after it reported better-than-expected earnings. Industrial holdings group DCC advanced 5.7 per cent to €26.15, but food group Kerry slipped back 0.8 per cent to €38.70.
Pharmaceutical group Elan closed down 8.8 per cent at €7.04, having rallied earlier in the day, after it said it would sell its interests in its main drug Tysabri to its partner Biogen and spend the money on acquisitions.
UK stocks advanced for a second day, led by a rally in mining companies, as Eurasian Natural Resources (ENRC) reported higher production and Lonmin climbed amid falling platinum supplies.
ENRC surged 9.1 per cent to 375.6 pence after the Kazakh company said that iron ore and ferrochrome production increased, while Lonmin rose 11.1 pence to 378.9 pence as Barclays forecast platinum supplies will fall to a 13-year low.
The shares of BP, Vodafone Group and Royal Dutch Shell, three of the four largest stocks in the FTSE 100 by weight, fell in London trading, limiting gains.
The FTSE 100 index rose 12.58 points, or 0.2 per cent, to 6,295.34 at the close in London, paring an earlier rally of as much as 0.6 per cent.
The volume of shares changing hands on FTSE 100 companies was 12 per cent greater than the average of the last 30 days, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
UniCredit and Intesa Sanpaolo led a drop in Italian shares. UniCredit declined 1.7 per cent to €4.28, while Intesa Sanpaolo retreated 1.6 per cent to €1.39. Vinci dropped €1.21 to €35.41. The company reported a drop in 2012 profitability, and said business would stagnate this year because of the economic slump.
ArcelorMittal rose 13 cents to €12.56. The world's biggest steelmaker said earnings before taxes and other items dropped to $1.32 billion in the fourth quarter from $1.71 billion a year earlier.
Volvo jumped 4.2 per cent even after fourth-quarter profit fell as the company predicted its North American and European markets would improve this year.
Stocks in New York were little changed, after erasing earlier declines, as a rally in Apple and better-than-estimated earnings offset concern over Europe's debt crisis before a gathering of euro zone leaders today.
Apple rose 1.1 per cent in early trading amid speculation the company will return more cash to shareholders.
Walt Disney climbed 1.2 per cent after sales topped estimates and its interactive unit posted its first profit since 2009.
Hewlett-Packard rose by 1.1 per cent on a report the company may be studying a breakup. GameStop plunged 6.9 per cent after a report said Microsoft's next Xbox console will require an Internet connection. - (Additional reporting: Bloomberg.)