Financial sector keeps market afloat


The Dublin market rose marginally yesterday, but most of the activity was confined to the main financials, dealers said.

Wall Street failed to give the market a lead when it opened in the afternoon and few second-line stocks budged. The FTSE 100 index bounced back from Tuesday's decline to set its highest closing level since the end of September. However, this was not enough to excite the Dublin market.

People in the market say there is significant value in Dublin, but it is the same everywhere, so overseas buyers are faced with a range of options. "There are bargains to be picked up everywhere at the moment, so Dublin isn't always the first port of call," said one dealer.

AIB was up 8p to 900p in relatively quiet trade. Dealers expressed confidence about the bank riding out the current storm over the issue of bogus non-resident accounts.

Bank of Ireland, also trading quietly, put on 1p sterling to close the day at 963p sterling.

The strongest financial on the day was Irish Life, which jumped 18p to 470p. "There is a feeling that it was oversold in the past few months, so the stock is coming back to its normal price range now," said a dealer.

Other financials had mixed fortunes, with Irish Permanent up 10p to 780p, Anglo Irish Bankdown 11/2p to 141p and First Active slipping 5p to 270p.

Galen Holdings didn't trade having slipped to 386p on Tuesday on the resumption of trading following the failure of merger discussions with Ferring Pharmaceuticals.

Greencore, which has been strong in recent weeks, went up 5p to 250p in moderate trading. Another food group, IAWS, went up 5p to 220p, while Avonmore Waterford was down 5p at 220p.

Smurfit was down 2p to 108p despite one of its international rivals announcing that it was cutting back its paper operations worldwide.