Ryanair soars as Q3 shows 21% profits gain
European stocks were little changed near a 23-month high yesterday as US reports showed that durable-goods orders increased in the world’s largest economy while pending sales of houses declined.
US stock indexes were under pressure, although oil prices rose on the strong durable goods data and earnings results from Caterpillar.
The Iseq index of Irish shares closed up, albeit barely, gaining 0.04 per cent to finish at 3,554.
Ryanair was the “stand-out” stock of the day in Dublin, according to one broker, following financial results which “didn’t disappoint”. The budget airline posted third-quarter pre-tax profits of €18.1 million, a 21 per cent increase on the same period last year, with stock finishing the day up 0.75 per cent at €5.54.
Bank of Ireland stock was also “reasonably active”, up 2.86 per cent. Fitch affirmed the support-driven ratings of Bank of Ireland with a stable outlook, after market close yesterday, which might lead to more interest in the shares today, according to one Dublin stockbroker.
Index heavyweight CRH finished flat, pausing for breath after a strong run last week. Elsewhere, it was a bad day for clinical research company Icon, down 8.2 per cent to €20.15.
Britain’s top share index breached the 6,300 level for the first time since May 2008 yesterday, driven by strength in banking and energy stocks, although that heady height failed to hold for the close.
Global giant HSBC added the most points to the FTSE 100 index, with its 1 per cent advance alone accounting for almost five index points and helping the UK banking sector to a 0.8 per cent gain, with the lender highlighted as Goldman Sachs-preferred UK banks pick in a sector review.
Goldman reiterated its “conviction buy” rating on HSBC on the basis of relative valuation, return trends and expectations.
The bank also repeated its “buy” rating on Barclays, the top percentage blue chip gainer, up 1.7 per cent. Other financial stocks also took heart from the move, with Aberdeen Asset Management rallying 1.6 per cent, and insurer Standard Life up 1.2 per cent.
The FTSE 100 index closed up 9.96 points, or 0.2 per cent, having reached a fresh 4¾-year peak of 6,311.26.
Euro zone blue chips touched fresh 18-month peaks yesterday, with technical charts pointing to a continued slow grind higher backed by tentative signs of improvement in the global economy and corporate earnings.
SBM Offshore rose 3.4 per cent after Morgan Stanley raised its recommendation for the stock.
TNT Express advanced 3.3 per cent to €5.69 after UBS upgraded the shares to buy from neutral. The Dutch delivery company’s new management will swiftly act to fix or sell its Brazilian and Chinese operations, UBS said.
The Stoxx 600 slipped 0.1 per cent at the close. Germany’s DAX retreated 0.3 per cent, while France’s CAC 40 advanced less than 0.1 per cent.
US stocks fell yesterday, following the longest rally for the Standard and Poor’s 500 Index since 2004, as a drop in pending home sales overshadowed a rise in durable-goods orders while investors watched earnings.
AK Steel Holding lost 7.4 per cent after Goldman Sachs downgraded the shares. Caterpillar added 2 per cent as it forecast faster growth in the year’s second half. Facebook rose 3 per cent as options traders were the most bullish on the shares on record. Apple climbed 2.3 per cent, after its worst weekly slump since 2008. Yahoo! jumped 4.7 per cent in late trading after posting its results.
PulteGroup slid 3.3 per cent, AK Steel tumbled 7.4 per cent and Century Aluminum lost 4.1 per cent as Goldman Sachs downgraded the companies to sell from neutral. – (Additional reporting Bloomberg)