Stocks rise as US eases off Syria strike plan
Apple falls, but chipmaker Arm advances after new iPhone launches
US President Barack Obama postponed a decision on military action against Syria and said he would opt for diplomacy first. Photograph: Evan Vucci
European stocks rose to the highest level in more than five years as US President Barack Obama postponed a decision on military action against Syria and said he would opt for diplomacy first. National benchmark indexes gained in 13 of the 18 western European markets, but Ireland was one of the five that slipped.
The Iseq index closed down 0.3 per cent, with a 0.4 per cent gain for its largest constituent, cement-maker CRH, not quite enough to compensate for declines in other stocks.
Ryanair fell 1.3 per cent to €6.18, after crude oil prices recovered some of the losses incurred earlier in the week as the US backed away from its Syria strike plan. Bookmaker Paddy Power dropped 1.1 per cent to €60.95, while food group Glanbia also retreated, finishing down 1.5 per cent at €9.49.
There were gains, however, for DIY chain owner and builders’ merchants Grafton, which advanced 2 per cent to €6.50, and insulation-maker Kingspan, which rose 1.3 per cent to €12.11. Paper and packaging group Smurfit Kappa advanced 1.8 per cent to €16.65.
Independent News & Media closed flat at 5 cent on a day in which it received Pensions Board approval for its pension restructuring plan.
The FTSE 100 index of blue-chip shares was little changed, closing up 0.1 per cent, as new figures showed a fall in UK unemployment, fuelling speculation that the Bank of England may raise interest rates earlier than projected.
HSBC Holdings, which makes up 7.7 per cent of the benchmark index, dropped 1 per cent after JPMorgan Chase downgraded the stock.
ARM Holdings, which designs chips for Apple’s iPhones, secured its biggest rally in four months after investors bet it would benefit from the US tech giant’s unveiling of two new models of the device. The chip-maker jumped 4.8 per cent to 986.5 pence.
Kingfisher dropped 2.7 per cent to 408.5 pence after Europe’s biggest home-improvement retailer - it owns the B&Q chain - said first-half adjusted pretax profit fell 1.6 per cent to £365 million pounds, missing forecasts.
African Minerals slumped 15 per cent to 167 pence, its lowest price since May 2009, after saying exports may fall to as low as 11 million metric tons in 2013, compared with a previous forecast for 13-15 million tons because of maintenance and operational problems.
Germany’s DAX added 0.6 per cent, while France’s CAC 40 rose 0.1 per cent.
Nokia gained 3.9 per cent to €4.42 after Berenberg Bank raised its recommendation on the Finnish phone maker to buy from sell, citing a stronger infrastructure business and an undervalued patent portfolio.
Utility stocks were the best performer of the 19 industry groups in the Stoxx 600. EON, Germany’s largest utility, advanced 4.8 per cent to €13.45 and RWE, the second-biggest, climbed 6.6 per cent to €25.06. Banco de Sabadell, Spain’s fifth-largest bank, surged 9.7 per cent to €2.
Gemalto, which provides near-field communications technology solutions that enable contactless payment for mobile phones, sank 6.4 per cent to €78.65 - its biggest drop in two years.
Stocks fluctuated in early trading as Apple tumbled the most since April and investors watched for further developments on Syria.
The S&P’s 500 Index had risen less than 0.1 per cent by just after noon in New York, after retreating 0.3 per cent, while Apple lost 5.6 per cent. Its new phones were criticised by analysts for lacking enough new features or a low enough price to attract a broad range of first-time users. The yield on 10-year Treasuries slid as traders speculated that the sale of corporate bonds by Verizon would lead to the unwinding of hedges used to guard against higher yields. (Additional reporting: Bloomberg)