Fiscal cliff talks hold markets in check


President Barack Obama’s rejection of Republican proposals to end the fiscal cliff deadlock kept a rein on activity yesterday. European stocks inched ahead but US markets fluctuated as differences remained between the White House and the Republicans over a resolution to the automatic triggering of tax increases and spending cuts next month.


Trade was relatively quiet yesterday. Analysts at stockbroker Davy raised their 2013 earnings forecast for international packaging group Smurfit by 4 per cent, to reflect the Orange County acquisition.

Smurfit stock fell slightly, ending the day 0.22 per cent down at €9.08. Dealers said there was both buy and sell interest in the group yesterday and the price remained well above the €9 mark, which it hit recently.

Bank of Ireland gained 4.55 per cent to close at 11.5 cents. Traders speculated that if the Republic’s economy is to recover, the bank is the obvious play.

Index heavyweight, international building materials giant CRH, was largely flat, adding just 0.36 per cent to €14.06.

Builders’ merchant and DIY group Grafton was weak throughout the day, closing 3.21 per cent off at €3.633.

DCC group, which generates much of its earnings from its heating oil businesses, gained 1.51 per cent to €23.60. Traders said investors believed a prolonged cold spell was increasingly likely.


TESCO advanced 1.1 per cent to 326.1 pence ahead of an interim statement due today.

Tullow Oil tumbled 6.5 per cent to 1,282p, the biggest slump in more than four months, after saying its Zaedyus-2 appraisal well off French Guiana had failed to find commercial quantities of oil.

Lloyds increased 0.6 per cent to 46.02p and RBS added 0.7 per cent to 294.7p. Centrica rallied 1.3 per cent to 332.7 pence after partner Electricite de France (edf) said it would extend the lifespan of Hinkley Point B and Hunterston B power stations by seven years to 2023. Centrica owns a stake in EDF’s Lake Acquisitions, which operates eight power stations in the Britain.


Alcatel-Lucent added 2.6 per cent to 88.3 cents after it was reported that the French phone-equipment maker is closer to obtaining financing from at least three banks as it attempts a turnaround.

Elekta rallied 6 per cent to 101.60 kroner after the Swedish maker of radiation-surgery equipment reported second-quarter net income of Kr258 million and sales of Kr2.49 billion, topping analyst estimates.

United Internet retreated 8.3 per cent to €15.90, the biggest drop in more than two years, as UBS placed 11.9 million shares in the German phone company on behalf of Warburg Pincus, the third-largest shareholder. UBS offered the stake at €16 to €16.50, according to terms of the deal obtained by Bloomberg News.

EDF declined 2.3 per cent to €13.97 after raising the cost estimate of developing a nuclear plant in Normandy by 42 per cent to €8.5 billion.

Neopost lost 5.7 per cent to €38.23 after the French supplier of mail-room equipment lowered its annual sales-growth forecast to about 2 per cent.That compares to a previous estimate of 2-4 per cent.


STOCKS finished slightly lower in a quiet session yesterday as the back-and-forth wrangling over the fiscal cliff gave investors little reason to act. Trading volume was light as legislators continue to negotiate a deal.

Netflix was the SP 500’s top percentage gainer, advancing 14 per cent after Walt Disney agreed to give the company exclusive TV distribution rights to its movies, starting in 2016.

MetroPCS Communications shares fell 7.5 per cent after Sprint Nextel appeared unlikely to make a counter-offer for the wireless service provider.

After the closing bell, Pandora Media shares plunged 23 per cent after the company reported its third-quarter results. – (Additional reporting: Bloomberg/ Reuters)