European stocks see day of advances
Stock markets were mostly in fine fettle yesterday, although rises came on fairly weak volume as investors continued to ease off in the approach to Christmas.
Across Europe, stocks climbed to their highest level in 19 months, helped by an unexpectedly large boost to German business confidence and mounting optimism that US policymakers would reach a deal on next year’s budget.
The overall Iseq rose according to the European trend, finishing 1.64 per cent higher.
CRH was a key driver in lifting the market, attracting good interest around the €15 level. Shares in the index heavyweight closed 72 cent, or 5.03 per cent stronger at €15.04, aided by a recommendation from Deutsche Bank. Positive construction sentiment in the US and an upbeat statement from peer firm Apogee also helped.
Kingspan was also fairly solid, climbing by 8.2 cent to €8.282. Merchanting group Grafton did well too, rising 13 cent to €3.76.
In aviation, Aer Lingus was quiet in the wake of the Government’s confirmation that it would not sell its stake in the airline to Ryanair. Shares in the takeover target finished 1.8 cent weaker at €1.062.
Ryanair, which said it would open its first base in Greece next year, added 0.9 cent to close at €4.774.
Smurfit Kappa was a loser, falling by 36 cent to €9.00. Investors await Italian paper pricing data due today.
Glanbia retained its strong position after Tuesday’s placing, ticking up 4.9 cent to €8.189. Elan also did well, helped by a strong overnight performance in New York. Shares in the company climbed by 24 cent to €8.05.
Less lucky was Independent News Media, which shed 52 per cent as it fell by 2.2 cent to 2 cent. Volume was light.
UK stocks advanced to a nine-month high on the back of positive noises in Germany and the US. The FTSE 100 rose 25.69 points, or 0.4 per cent, the highest since March 16th. The index has rallied by 7 per cent this year.
In banking, Lloyds and Royal Bank of Scotland led lenders higher, while HSBC advanced by 2 per cent to 653p. London Stock Exchange gained the most in over four years as it was said to have lowered its bid for LCH.Clearnet.
European banking shares contributed the most to the benchmark Stoxx Europe 600 index’s advance yesterday. The index climbed 0.4 per cent to 281.63 at the close of trading, helped by a Standard Poor’s upgrade in Greece’s debt.
The gauge has rallied 15 per cent this year as the European Central Bank announced an unlimited bond-buying plan and the Federal Reserve began a third round of asset purchases.
National benchmark indexes rose in every western European market except Finland.
The volume of shares changing hands in the Stoxx 600 was 34 per cent greater than the average of the last 30 days, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. In Germany, the Ifo institute’s business climate index, based on a survey of 7,000 executives, climbed to 102.4 in December from 101.4 in November. Economists had predicted a gain to 102.
US stocks were falling as European markets closed, pulling the Standard and Poor’s 500 index down from a two-month high, as the White House said it would veto a Republican budget plan and housing starts decreased.
Alcoa fell 2.6 per cent as Moody’s Investors Service placed the aluminium producer under review for a credit downgrade. Utility and phone stocks fell more than 0.4 per cent for the worst performance among 10 SP 500 groups.
“Markets continue to be very much focused on fiscal cliff resolution,” said Ryan Larson, Chicago-based head of US equity trading at RBC Global Asset Management. – Additional reporting, Bloomberg