Market decides to take a breather


After notching up its biggest ever one-day gain on Monday, the market took a breather yesterday, closing slightly weaker after a day spent mostly in positive territory. The leading stocks started confidently but eased back late in the day to leave the ISEQ index of shares 0.15 per cent lower. "Given recent price movements, anything less than a 2per cent move is regarded as a quiet day," one dealer said.

Financial stocks generally held onto some of their gains although they closed off the day's highs. AIB edged up to 900p before closing at 892p, a gain of 6p. Bank of Ireland closed 25p firmer at £10.75 while Irish Life gained 7p to 452p. Irish Permanent was unchanged at 770p and as was First Active at 275p.

Among the leading industrial stocks, CRH closed 10p higher at 835p and Smurfit was unchanged at 110p.

Northern Irish-based pharmaceutical firm Galen provided one of the few features of an otherwise dull session although most of the action in Galen shares took place in London. The stock lost nearly a third of its value after it resumed trading following a near fourmonth suspension pending the outcome of merger talks with Dutch-based pharmaceutical company, Ferring.

On Monday, Galen announced the deal was off. The shares eventually ended the day nearly 23 per cent lower at 337.5 pence sterling but dealers said this mainly reflected the fall in markets since the stock was suspended last June. "It's still a fine company fundamentally," said one dealer.

CBT shares also had an eventful day, falling further on the Nasdaq after the company released results showing third quarter net income fell to $2.9 million (£1.9 million) from $4.9 million a year earlier.

By the time the Irish market closed, shares in CBT were $2.3125 lower at $7.9375.