European markets rise as bank stocks gain

Investors’ fears about stress in the banking system ease during trading session

European shares rose on Wednesday supported by gains in banking stocks, including UBS, which rose after naming a new chief executive, while a strong outlook from chipmaker Infineon also helped lift the mood.

Among investors there was a sense that the recent banking turmoil, which started earlier in March with the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank and went on to trigger volatility in global stock markets, may have subsided for now.


The Irish market gained 1.2 per cent in Wednesday’s session, reflecting the upbeat trend across the major European indices. As sentiment towards banking stocks improved Bank of Ireland rose 1.2 per cent to €9.33, while AIB added 1 per cent to finish at €3.71.

Ryanair was one of the most convincing climbers on the Dublin market. The airline’s share prices swelled 3.2 per cent to €14.72.


CRH also advanced, with the building materials group edging up 0.7 per cent to €45.30, while Kingspan rose 1.7 per cent to €61.08. It was a good day too for packaging giant Smurfit Kappa, which closed 1.35 per cent higher at €33.01.


The blue-chip FTSE 100 gained 1.1 per cent as abating fears of a global banking meltdown lifted financial stocks, while real estate stocks bounced back after falling for the last three days.

UK banks jumped 2.2 per cent, their best single-day performance in more than a week, as lenders Barclays and HSBC rose 3.5 per cent and 2.4 per cent respectively.

The domestically-focused FTSE 250 also added 1.3 per cent, with Bellway surging 7.2 per cent after UBS raised its price target on the homebuilder.

Meanwhile, Bank of England data showed the volume of mortgages approved by British lenders picked up in February by more than expected, adding to signs that the downturn in the housing market may be levelling off. British real estate stocks rose 2.4 per cent, posting their best one-day performance in two months.

However, Next slumped 4.3 per cent after the fashion retailer said that higher costs for wages and energy were still expected to reduce its profit this year, even as it reported higher annual profit.


The benchmark STOXX 600 index closed 1.3 per cent higher.

UBS Group gained 3.7 per cent after the Swiss bank announced that Sergio Ermotti will return to take the helm to steer the bank’s takeover of Credit Suisse. Credit Suisse climbed 4 per cent.

German consumer sentiment is set to nudge up in April as energy prices have retreated somewhat from record highs, though a full recovery is not in sight anytime soon, a GfK institute survey showed.

Germany’s Infineon gained 6.9 per cent after the chipmaker raised its outlook for both its fiscal second quarter and the whole of 2023.

The wider tech index climbed 2.7 per cent, including STMicroelectronics and AMS.

Mercedes slid 2.1 per cent after news that Kuwait’s sovereign wealth fund is planning to reduce its stake in the German luxury carmaker via the sale of 20 million shares.

New York

Wall Street indexes rose in early trading as worries about stress in the banking sector eased, with some upbeat earnings reports and rising expectations about the Federal Reserve pausing interest rate hikes boosting sentiment further.

Micron Technology advanced 5.8 per cent to the top of the S&P 500 after the chipmaker forecast artificial intelligence will boost its 2025 sales. Lululemon Athletica jumped 12.9 per cent after an upbeat annual results forecast, giving a big boost to the Nasdaq and helping it outperform peers.

Rate-sensitive growth names such as Amazon and Tesla rose 2.6 per cent and 1.4 per cent respectively. US-listed shares of Alibaba Group rose 1.7 per cent to a fresh six-week high, a day after rallying on the internet giant’s revamp and listing plans.

Additional reporting: Reuters

Laura Slattery

Laura Slattery

Laura Slattery is an Irish Times journalist writing about media, advertising and other business topics