Iseq finishes year on high despite sluggish day


Market Report: The Iseq managed to finish the year on a new high yesterday, despite barely budging during the half-day session.

The overall 0.22 per cent daily gain owed much to the small-caps, as two main banks ended weaker and other large companies were generally muted.

The biggest exception here came in CRH, which was rewarded after announcing a €300 million Spanish acquisition. The deal to buy slightly more than a quarter of Uniland drove CRH's shares up by 42 cent, or 1.7 per cent, to €24.85. The firm is scheduled to issue a trading update next Wednesday.

In banking, the star on the day was Anglo Irish Bank, which rose by 23 cent to end 2005 at €12.90. Irish Life & Permanent also improved, increasing by 25 cent to €17.25. The stock was one of the busiest on a day where just three companies managed volume of more than one million shares. AIB finished the day 33 cent weaker at €18.05, while Bank of Ireland lost 12 cent to close at €13.30.

Elsewhere, Independent News & Media posted volume of almost 1.3 million shares, the second-highest of the session. Shares in the media firm closed one cent weaker at €2.54.

Qualceram Shires posted one of the biggest moves on the day, although the shift came on low volume. The bathroom manufacturer jumped by 12 cent, or 10 per cent, to €1.27.

Kerry Group also rose, adding 11 cent to finish at €18.71. Goodbody Stockbrokers said yesterday that its forecasts for Kerry in 2005 remain unchanged, with the firm forecast to deliver 6.6 per cent growth in adjusted EPS. Greencore fared less well, falling by nine cent to €3.35. IAWS also declined, losing 11 cent to end the session at €12.15.

McInerney had a solid day, closing 29 cent higher at €11.59, again on fairly weak volume.

Grafton gained five cent to finish at €9.20. Eircom also gained ground, climbing by two cent to €1.98. Elan added five cent to reach €11.40.

Settlement Day: January 5th