Market picks up with a little help from the US and Britain


THE Irish market picked up in late afternoon yesterday, boosted by the US and Britain.

Earlier in the day markets were weak as dealers worried about the impact of US jobs data.

Most of the leaders gained some ground after suffering small losses a day earlier. Smurfit put on 1p to close at 163p while the financials also did well.

Bank of Ireland gained 1 1/2p to close at 568 1/2p and AIB closed 3p higher at 415p. Irish Permanent, however, lost 2p to close at 523p. CRH also lost 1p to close at 629p.

However, dealers said most interest was in the smaller stocks. Clondnlkin, Grafton and Kingspan all gained significant ground with more buyers than sellers still evident.

Grafton gained 7 1/2p from earlier in the day to close at 740p on bullish sentiment for the construction sector. Kingspan gained 20p to close at 545p while Clondalkin also put on 10p to close at 520p.

Fyffes remained steady at 117p, after it reported a 15 per cent increase in pre-tax profit to £48.5 million earlier in the week.

The lower-than-expected increase in US fourth quarter employment data of 0.8 per cent also had a positive impact on bond markets as fears of wage inflation and a US rate rise receeded.

Irish five and 10-year bonds made the most headway after the announcement but only just managed to recoup earlier losses. Dealers were said to be keeping a close eye on voting in the Partnership 2000. If the agreement failed to be carried it could impact on inflation and hence be bad news for Irish bonds.

Significant supply in Britain this week may also be holding the market back a little, dealers noted. Britain auctioned £2.5 billion sterling yesterday and is planning to auction £1.5 billion tomorrow.

The 6.5 per cent five-year bond remained flat at 102.45p to yield 5.8 per cent. While 10-year paper also remained static over the day to close at 109.05p yielding 6.57 per cent.