Stocks edge up on strong retail sales

Thu, Oct 4, 2012, 01:00

MARKETS PUT in a mixed performance yesterday as unexpectedly strong retail sales figures and good employment data from the US offset concerns about Spain, the euro zone’s latest bail out candidate.

Dublin, Frankfurt and London made a little ground, while Paris slipped and the Stoxx 600 also ended the day slightly down.

Spanish premier, Mariano Rajoy, remained adamant in the face of growing scepticism that the country has no plans to ask for a bail out.

Euro area retail sales unexpectedly increased for a fourth month in August as demand rebounded in Germany, Europe’s largest economy.

In the US, it emerged that private sector employers hired 162,000 workers last month, after taking 189,000 workers in August.

DUBLIN

THE IRISH market reflected the general European trend, and its benchmark index ended the day one third of a per cent ahead.

There was activity in packaging group, Smurfit Kappa, which ended the day level at €8.031 after about 10.5 million shares were traded in Dublin. The stock swung between €8.06 and €8.05 for much of the day.

Index heavyweight, international building materials group, CRH, closed 0.34 per cent off at €14.775 after ticking up slightly to €14.83 earlier in the day.

Drug maker Elan was one of the better performers on the day, adding 1.45 per cent to close at €8.674, although volumes were very light, with around 300,000 of its shares changing hands.

Builders’ merchant and DIY specialist, Grafton, also had a good day, gaining over 1 per cent to close at €3.43 with trades in the stock totalling 1.9 million shares.

Healthcare products distributor, United Drug, fell 2.28 per cent to close at €2.912.

LONDON

EASYJET RALLIED 3.5 per cent to 615 pence, the highest price since January 2008, after saying full-year earnings beat its projections following a surge in demand for flights from London after the end of the 2012 Olympic Games.

Pre tax profit for the fiscal year ended September 30 will be in the range of 310 million pounds to 320 million pounds, EasyJet said.

BTG advanced 9 per cent to 363.2 pence, the biggest advance since October 5th, 2011, after the drugmaker raised its revenue forecast for the year to March 31st, 2013, to between £205 million and £215 million.

Lamprell slumped 36 per cent to 70 pence after saying its 2012 loss will be wider than forecast and that it will introduce changes to the senior management team.

Tesco dropped 2.6 per cent to 327.95 pence after the UK’s largest retailer reported the first profit drop in almost two decades after increasing investment to halt declining supermarket sales.

Trading profit fell 11 per cent to £1.59 billion ($2.6 billion) in the first half of the financial year, also hurt by reduced earnings in South Korea and central Europe, Cheshunt, England-based Tesco said today. The average estimate of 12 analysts compiled by Bloomberg was £1.62 billion.

FirstGroup plunged a record 21 per cent to 193.4 pence. The UK Department for Transport cancelled the West Coast competition to run trains from London to Scotland citing the discovery of “serious technical flaws” in the franchise process. FirstGroup had won the route in August from billionaire Richard Branson’s Virgin Group.

EUROPE

SODEXO CLIMBED 2.3 per cent to €60.83 in Paris after Credit Suisse Group AG raised its recommendation for the world’s second-biggest provider of catering services to outperform, the equivalent of buy, from neutral.

Vestas Wind Systems A/S fell 5.2 per cent to 37.90 Danish kroner after the management of the world’s biggest wind-turbine maker failed to convince investors at a capital markets day of its plans to resurrect the company. Haakon Levy, an analyst with DNB Markets, advised investors on September 24 to hold onto the stock because it might rise on the presentation.

The shares also fell after the company late yesterday said a former chief financial officer was involved in two unauthorised deals in India that may cost the company as much as €18 million.

US

US STOCKS gained ground after new data showed that businesses hired 162,000, 22,000 more than the media tipped by economists polled by Bloomberg.

PulteGroup, the largest US homebuilder by revenue, jumped 6.2 per cent to $16.52. DR Horton gained 5.6 per cent to $21.86 while Lennar climbed 6.3 per cent to $37.21.

Best Buy rose 3.7 per cent to $17.60 after Reuters reported that founder Richard Schulze and at least four private-equity firms are looking at the company’s finances with a view to a possible $11 billion buyout.

Family Dollar Stores climbed 3.4 per cent to $68.22. The discount retailer forecast fiscal 2013 earnings of $4.10 to $4.40 a share.