The market eased comfortably into its first full week of 2004 trade yesterday, with most of the main players posting reasonable gains in healthy trade.
Among the strongest performers was CRH, which is expected to issue a broadly positive trading statement tomorrow. Shares in the firm moved 46 cents higher to close at €16.92 last night, with investors apparently prepared to ignore the unhelpful effects of the dollar's continuing weakness. Analysts are expecting CRH to flag a negative currency impact of some €90 million in its update.
The US currency played a bigger role in the performance of Fyffes yesterday, as traders eyed the benefits the firm will draw from lower input costs. Some five million shares changed hands in the fruit distributor, which rose six cents to €1.73.
The two main financials had a mixed day, with AIB dropping eight cents to €12.72 and Bank of Ireland adding seven to finish at €11.07. Dealers reported strong demand for the bank in London and Dublin, with 4.7 million shares traded on the ISEQ.
Anglo Irish had a quieter day as it gave up 20 cents to close at €12.70. Irish Life & Permanent benefited from improving sentiment on the insurance sector by climbing 43 cents to €13.18. The market meanwhile said goodbye to First Active, which was yesterday officially acquired by Royal Bank of Scotland.
Elsewhere, Waterford Wedgwood's ordinary shares moved down half a cent to 22 cents, while the firm's fully-paid rights rose two cents to 23 cents. Independent News & Media won back ground lost over the Christmas period by climbing eight cents to €1.99.
Abbey strengthened in advance of results due on Thursday, closing at €6.88, up 18 cents on the day.
Heiton, which is due to report interim numbers next week, was unchanged at €4.10 on light volume. Greater interest centred on Greencore, which fell eight cents to €3.49 as 1.9 million shares were traded.
Settlement Date: January 8th