Iseq slips a little as market jitters return over Syria
John Boehner, speaker of the US House of Representatives, who said yesterday he supported the US president’s call for action against the Assad regime in Syria, renewing jitters among investors. Photograph: Alex Wong/Getty Images
The Iseq closed down just a fraction yesterday, as a week-long rally in European shares stalled because of ongoing concerns about potential western missile strikes against the regime in Syria. John Boehner, speaker of the US House of Representatives, said he supported the US president’s call for action against the Assad regime, renewing jitters among investors.
Yesterday’s release by the Department of Finance of exchequer returns for August, which were in line with expectations, had little impact on the market in Dublin, traders said. National benchmark indexes declined in 11 of 18 western European markets. There was a rare bright spot in Greece where the ASE rose 2.4 per cent.
The Iseq opened down sharply on the back of the Syrian concerns, but it recovered during the day before slipping back just prior to close. Volumes were weak across the board. Fruit distributor Total Produce was the best performer yesterday, closing up almost 4 per cent at 79 cents on the back of strong interim results. It said half-yearly revenues rose by almost 19 per cent to €1.7 billion and raised guidance.
Grafton Group crept upwards by 1.6 per cent, as investors continued to digest its relatively bright interim results from last week. Traders said the company’s senior management were currently on an investor roadshow, boosting interest in the stock. Following some recent analyst upgrades, the Smurfit Kappa share price almost touched the €16 mark, before settling at €15.96. Traders said the company, the biggest paper and packaging producer in Europe, was benefiting from a stabilisation of the continent’s economy.
Vodafone was among the most heavily traded stocks at three times its daily average. It lost 5 per cent to £2.02, knocking 20 points off the FTSE in the process, after Verizon Communications agreed to buy its 45 per cent stake in Verizon Wireless for $130 billion.
Electronics retailer Dixons, with operations in Ireland, rose the most since the middle of May as a British Retail Consortium report pointed to strong sales of electrical goods. The shares gained 6.5 per cent to 44.18 pence.
The Penneys/Primark owner Associated British Foods added 1.2 per cent to £190, as BNP Paribas raised its shares recommendation, citing the growth potential of its Irish-headquartered discount-clothing unit.
Nokia announced the sale of its handset business for €5.44 billion to Microsoft, sparking a massive short squeeze rally on Nokia’s shares – one of the most shorted stocks in Europe. It rallied 34 per cent to €3.97, as hedge funds who had shorted the stock scrambled to buy shares to close out their positions.
The German confectionary ingredients maker, Suedzucker, fell 12 per cent to €21.84. Analysts said it would need significant restructuring to prosper amid increased competition when the current EU regulatory regime for the sugar industry ended in 2017.
Dufry, an operator of duty- free stores and a competitor of Aer Rianta International, rose 3.4 per cent to 130.30 Swiss francs after winning contracts with a number of airports in Brazil.
US stocks rose, following the worst month since May 2012 for the S&P 500 Index, as better-than-forecast economic data overshadowed concern over possible action against Syria.
CBS jumped 4.7 per cent after its programmes returned to Time Warner Cable. Microsoft slipped 4.6 per cent after agreeing to buy Nokia Oyj’s mobile- phone business and licence its patents for €5.44 billion.
Jarden jumped 10 per cent to $47.43 after agreeing to buy Yankee Candle for $1.75 billion. Apple rose 0.3 percent to $488.58, trimming an early rally of as much as 2.8 per cent. JC Penney gained a 1.9 per cent. – (Additional reporting: Bloomberg/Reuters)