Markets quiet ahead of G20 in Moscow

Sat, Feb 16, 2013, 00:00

European markets were subdued yesterday ahead of this weekend’s G20 meeting in Moscow, where finance ministers and central bankers are expected to discuss growing tensions in global currency markets.

DUBLIN

The Iseq closed 0.4 per cent lower points as traders pulled back, reversing an early day rally.

Independent News Media gave up 18 per cent to 0.032 cent, slipping close to the bottom of the index, after a shake-up at its Australian and New Zealand subsidiary, APN News Media. The group is seeking the removal of APN’s chief executive officer Brett Chenoweth. Stock volumes were light relative to the drop in value.

Packaging maker Smurfit Kappa took on 1 per cent to close at €11.35 after credit ratings agency Standard Poor’s upgraded its outlook on the group to “positive” and retained its BB rating.

Food company Kerry Group lost 0.47 per cent to €40.11 as the sector weakened in the wake of the fallout from the unfolding horse meat scandal, although the company has been in no way implicated.

Ryanair lost 0.83 per cent to €5.75 and Aer Lingus rose 0.64 per cent to €1.25 after news this week that Ryanair has been told the European Commission will reject its takeover bid for Aer Lingus.

LONDON

Britain’s FTSE 100 inched ahead 0.90 points, as strength in the healthcare sector was counteracted by weakness in miners and energy stocks.

Foodmaker Greencore tumbled the most in 14 months after the Irish company said Asda had withdrawn beef bolognese sauce supplied by the group after traces of horse DNA were found. Shares plunged 9.5 per cent, the greatest drop on the FTSE All-Share index.

Drug maker Reckitt Benckiser, manufacturer of Strepsils throat lozenges, added the most, gaining 1.5 per cent after HSBC raised its target price on the stock. GlaxoSmithKline also gained, rising 0.4 per cent after it gained priority status for its drug for HIV-Aids.

Miners Randgold and Fresnillo led the fallers, shedding 3.8 per cent and 6.4 per cent after Citigroup analysts recommended selling both on concerns over waning momentum in gold and silver prices, as gold prices slid to a six-month low.

Darty, the owner of France’s biggest consumer-electronics chain, tumbled 7.5 per cent to 46 pence after saying it is in danger of missing annual profit estimates. Sales weakened toward the end of the three months through January.

EUROPE

European stocks were little changed as France’s CAC 40 slipped 0.3 per cent, Germany’s DAX fell 0.5 per cent and the Stoxx Europe 600 Index slipped 0.2 per cent.

PPR surged to an 11-year high, up 7.6 per cent, after the French owner of Gucci reported profit that topped estimates.

Oil services company Aker Solutions dropped 12 per cent, the most since April 2009, as fourth-quarter net income missed analyst estimates.

Energy company Eni rose 2.1 per cent to €17.69 as Italy’s biggest oil company proposed a 2012 dividend of €1.08 a share.

US

The S&P 500 dipped in a late decline yesterday as Wal-Mart dropped following a report of a weak start to February sales, although the index just barely extended its streak of weekly gains to seven.

Equities were little changed for much of the session, with investors finding few reasons to make big bets following an extended rally on Wall Street, but stocks turned lower in afternoon action.

Wal-Mart fell 2.1 per cent after a weak start to February was reported. The stock was the biggest decliner on the Dow.

Herbalife shares cut earlier gains to rise 1.2 per cent. Late on Thursday, billionaire investor Carl Icahn said he now owned 13 per cent of Herbalife.

Burger King shares gained 4.7 per cent to $17.36 after it beat estimates with a 94 per cent rise in fourth-quarter profit, thanks to new menu additions. – (Additional reporting: Reuters/ Bloomberg)