European shares advance as coronavirus fears ease

Sentiment helped by robust Apple results

European shares rose on Wednesday to continue to recover from a steep sell-off earlier in the week, as investors continued to brush off concerns – for the moment, at least – about the impact of the coronavirus that was first discovered in China.

Sentiment was also helped by a strong set of results issued overnight by iPhone maker Apple.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 index added 0.4 per cent to 491.51, while the Iseq index in Dublin gained 1.3 per cent to 7,169.25.

The STOXX 600 shed nearly 3 per cent on Monday as outbreak fears gripped markets. The virus has claimed 133 lives so far and infected more than 5,000 people in China, prompting a Chinese government economist to warn that the country’s economic growth may drop to 5 per cent or even lower.



Banking stocks were among the best performers, as the industry took comfort from better-than-expected quarterly figures from Spain's Santander. AIB rose 3.8 per cent to €2.74, while Bank of Ireland gained 3.4 per cent to €4.69.

A solid set of results from Swedish banking group SEB also underpinned sentiment towards the sector.

Glenveagh Properties jumped 1.8 per cent to 90c, as the housebuilder raised its targets for home completions. This prompted some sector-followers to switch out of Cairn Homes, which lost 0.8 per cent to €1.25.

Food companies were out of sorts, with Glanbia off 0.7 per cent, Kerry Group down 0.3 per cent and Total Produce lost 0.7 per cent.


The FTSE 100 index, which had risen as much as 0.5 per cent earlier, ended only marginally higher. Shell and BP lagged after inventory and stockpiling data from the US Energy Information Administration.

Avast underperformed with a 5.5 per cent drop, bringing its losses for the week to nearly 20 per cent. It denied media reports and assured users that none of their personally identifiable information had been sold to a third party.

The cybersecurity company also said it was reviewing options for its trend analytics service which is at the centre of the data privacy concerns.

Wealth manager Quilter jumped nearly 9 per cent to top the midcaps after a rise in assets under management prompted upgrades by at least two brokerages.

But transport operator Stagecoach slid 6.3 per cent after HSBC downgraded the stock and Britain said it would nationalise Northern Rail, ahead of a review of railway services due to be published in weeks.


Santander jumped 4.4 per cent on the back of the Spanish lender’s well-received quarterly results.

Dutch telecoms group KPN lost 5.6 per cent as investors looked beyond its better-than-expected 2019 results to focus on its disappointing 2020 guidance.

LVMH lost 1 per cent after the French luxury goods group reported weak fourt-quarter results as protests in Hong Kong took their toll.

Swiss software company Temenos advanced 5.2 per cent after it unveiled a global strategic partnership with Google Cloud.

New York

US stock indexes edged higher in early afternoon trading, boosted by gains in Apple, Boeing and General Electric following their results, while investors assessed the economic damage of the fast-spreading coronavirus outbreak.

In a busy week for earnings, Apple gained after the iPhone maker reported earnings for the holiday shopping quarter above analysts’ expectations, even as it braced for more supply disruptions in virus-hit China.

McDonalds rose after it reported its sales grew last year at the swiftest pace in at least a decade even as the fast food group faced a turbulent period in which it abruptly replaced its chief executive.

Boeing rose after the plane maker forecast nearly $19 billion (€17.2 billion) in costs related to the grounding of its 737 MAX jets, smaller than what many analysts had expected.

General Electric jumped after the industrial conglomerate set higher cash target for 2020.

Starbucks dropped after warning of a financial hit as it closed thousands of restaurants and adjusted operating hours in China. – Additional reporting, Reuters

Joe Brennan

Joe Brennan

Joe Brennan is Markets Correspondent of The Irish Times