Market surges ahead as investor sentiment drives strong bull run


THE Irish market continued to surge ahead in a new year bull market, with continued demand from domestic and overseas investors for leading shares and generally buoyant international markets boosting sentiment. The ISEQ closed less than four points short of the 2800 mark and is now up 2.6 per cent on its 1996 close after just five days trading.

Crucial US economic figures will probably dictate the movement of the market for the rest of the week, and the non farm payroll figures tomorrow - one of the key indicators monitored by the Federal Reserve when assessing inflationary trends - will be closely watched. If there is a substantial rise in the non farm's, then speculation on a Fed rate rise could send stock markets tumbling.

At the moment, however, there is still sustained demand for the leading Irish shares, most of which closed well up yesterday. Bank of Ireland continued to consolidate its newly discovered number one position and closed up 3p on 568p while AIB was 4p higher on 395p. Industrials were also in demand with CRH up another 7 1/2p to 630p while Smurfit edged 1/2p higher to 181 1/2p.

Jurys was unchanged on 280p ahead of interim results which Goodbody expects to show a 27 per cent rise in pre tax profits, boosted by higher room occupancy and 8 per cent higher room rates. Woodchester was 6p higher on 224p as Credit Lyonnais continued to dominate thinking about the shares.

Elsewhere, Kerry was 5p higher on 625p, Irish Permanent and Irish Life remained well-bid but unchanged on 500p and 278p respectively, while Greencore was 2 1/2p higher on 387 1/2p - boosted by reports that the poor winter weather may have a negative impact on the British sugar beet harvest.

Gilts regained some of the recent lost ground and there the gains were biggest at the longer end of the curve. The market was boosted by stronger German bond prices but the focus today and tomorrow will be on the US non farm payroll figures.

At the close yesterday, five year gilts were 23p higher on a yield of 6.20 per cent, 10 year gilts closed 27p higher on a closing yield of 6.75 per cent while long gilts were 35p higher on a 7 per cent closing yield.