Values advance on positive sentiment
Markets were underpinned yesterday following comments on Wednesday by monetary chiefs in Europe and the US, with ECB president Mario Draghi and Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke signalling continued support for their respective economies.
The Iseq ended the day almost 1 per cent higher on fairly anaemic trade. Newsflow was light, with stocks mostly taking their lead from a positive overnight performance in the US.
Smurfit Kappa was among those putting in solid performances, with the paper and packaging giant rising 17 cent to €11.925 after announcing a product price rise.
Kingspan was also strong, closing 40 cent higher at €8.90, having slipped after reporting good numbers this week. The stock was also helped by positive results from smaller UK peer Howden Joinery.
As the dust settled on the latest round of its attempt to take over Aer Lingus, Ryanair rose by 3.7 cent to €5.658. Aer Lingus itself was 0.5 cent stronger at €1.24 at the close.
Bank of Ireland finished the session 0.1 cent weaker at 13.2 cent, remaining fairly range-bound. The bank is moving to change the terms of tracker loans in the UK, which will be seen as a bonus for investors. Results are due on Monday.
Numbers are also due on Monday from FBD, which fell three cent to €12.25 yesterday.
C&C climbed as expectations grew that Nielsen figures on the US cider market could be due. Shares in the drinks group rose by 11.6 cent to €4.895.
Takeover target Elan attracted some attention as it added 15.2 cent to €8.547.
Kerry Group was 86 cent firmer at €42.96, as Goodbody placed a €45 price target on the stock. The broker has rated it a “hold” and advises looking for share price weakness before buying for the long term.
The FTSE 100 Index advanced 34.93 points, or 0.6 per cent, to 6,360.81. The gauge rallied 1.3 per cent in February, for its longest streak of monthly gains since May 1997.
The broader FTSE All-Share Index also rose 0.6 per cent.
International Consolidated Airlines Group (IAG) jumped to a 19-month high as the parent of British Airways reported a narrower loss than analysts had predicted. IAG rallied 7.9 per cent to 239.2 pence.
Royal Bank of Scotland, the parent of Ulster Bank, slid the most in eight months after reporting a wider loss.
National Express, the coach and train operator, surged 13 per cent to 220 pence after reporting 2012 pretax profit of £164 million.
The Stoxx Europe 600 rose 1 per cent to 289.94 at the close of trading, extending its advance this month to 1 per cent, for its longest monthly winning streak since 1997. France’s CAC 40 and Germany’s DAX both added 0.9 per cent.
Markets were helped by the Draghi comments which indicated that the ECB has no intention of tightening monetary policy in the near term.
Highlights on the continent included Bayer climbing 2.7 per cent to €75.86 after saying sales will rise to about €41 billion this year. In Spain, Telefónica rose 20 cent to €10 after reporting fourth-quarter earnings that beat analysts’ estimates as sales growth in Latin America helped to offset revenue declines in its domestic market.
US stocks advanced, sending the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index towards a four-month rally, as data showed the economy grew less than forecast at the end of 2012 and jobless claims dropped more than estimated last week.
Limited Brands, the owner of Victoria’s Secret lingerie chain, rose 4.3 per cent after profit jumped. JC Penney tumbled 14 per cent after saying its net loss widened to $552 million. Sears, the retailer, slumped 5.5 per cent after posting a fourth-quarter loss that was larger than it forecast.–(Additional reporting, Bloomberg)