Weak economic figures lower markets

Sat, Mar 2, 2013, 00:00

Global equity markets fell and the euro slumped to a two-month low yesterday as weak economic data from Europe and China weighed on prices.

However, Wall Street stocks rebounded on news of surprisingly strong US manufacturing and consumer sentiment.

DUBLIN

The Dublin market ended the day pretty flat on par with its European counterparts. The Iseq index closed up 0.1 per cent at 3,762.

CRH finished the week flat after a decent run on the back of solid results this week. The building materials company ended down 0.45 per cent at €16.64.

Smurfit Kappa was also flat after a good week, closing up 0.40 per cent at €11.87. However, Irish manufacturing data out yesterday, which showed growth in new orders, may spell good news for the packaging company, according to one analyst. “More demand for goods means more packaging and boxes will be needed.”

The Dublin stockbroker said the day was quiet overall, with investors awaiting Bank of Ireland financial results due on Monday. The bank finished yesterday down less than 1 per cent at 13 cent.

Providence Resources finished the day up 1.35 per cent at €7.30. The oil and gas explorer yesterday said it had sold its UK onshore assets to IGas Energy for a total of $66 million. The proceeds, after repaying the outstanding sums payable under the Deutsche Bank pre-paid swap debt facility, total about $22 million.

LONDON

Britain’s blue chips rallied at the close yesterday after strong sentiment data out of the US helped the FTSE 100 to close higher on the first trading day of the month for the ninth month in a row.

The FTSE 100 closed up 17.79 points, or 0.3 per cent, at 6,378.60.

Consumer stocks were among the leading lights on the FTSE 100 with the likes of luxury goods firm Burberry up 2.5 per cent and global tobacco firm British American Tobacco up 2.1 per cent.

Xstrata shed 3.1 per cent after commodities trader Glencore pushed back the date for completion of the pair’s tie-up for the third time. Glencore itself was down 2.7 per cent.

Banks, which pared losses towards the close, still ended the day lower with Lloyds Banking Group off 2.2 per cent after news of a new $2.3 billion insurance mis-selling hit.

EUROPE

European stocks declined, following nine months of gains for the Stoxx Europe 600 index, as measures of manufacturing in the UK and China dropped, while a report showed euro area unemployment has climbed to a record.

Belgacom sank to the lowest price since its initial public offering in 2004 after its forecast for 2013 missed projections.

Royal Vopak dropped the most in more than four years after operating profit fell in 2012.

Thales jumped the most in 13 years after posting full-year profit that beat analysts’ projections.

The Stoxx 600 retreated 0.3 per cent to 289.02 at the close, paring an earlier slide of as much as 1.1 per cent.

France’s CAC 40 slipped 0.2 per cent, and Germany’s DAX climbed 0.6 per cent.

US

US stocks fluctuated between gains and losses as better-than-estimated data on consumer confidence and manufacturing offset concerns about federal spending cuts.

The Institute for Supply Management said its factory index rose to 54.2 in February from 53.1 a month earlier.

Groupon rallied 8.9 per cent after firing its chief executive officer.

The daily-deals company ousted Andrew Mason as chief executive officer a day after reporting results that disappointed investors.

Best Buy and Salesforce.comjumped more than 1.5 per cent after posting better-than-estimated results for the fourth quarter. – Additional reporting: Bloomberg, Reuters