European shares start week lower as healthcare stocks drag

Irish market pulled down by heavyweight firms

European shares dipped on Monday, hurt by weakness in healthcare stocks, while property stocks limited losses as they were supported by sharp gains in UK property portal Rightmove.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 index eased 0.3 per cent, with healthcare shares sliding 0.6 per cent.


The Iseq All Share index ended the session down 1 per cent at 8,180.15, pulled down by heavyweight companies like Smurfit Kappa, which fell 1.2 per cent to €31.33, Ryanair, which dipped 1.2 per cent to €17.13 and Flutter Entertainment, which lost 0.8 per cent to €143.50.

Banking stocks were also generally lower, with Bank of Ireland falling 2.8 per cent to €8.58, while AIB slipped 0.4 per cent to €4.21, as sector followers monitored comments from European Central Bank (ECB) president Christine Lagarde.


Ms Lagarde said euro zone inflation pressures are easing as expected, but wage growth is still strong and the outlook is especially uncertain, so the ECB’s fight to contain price growth is not yet done.

Molten Ventures rose 5 per cent to €2.92, as investors welcomed the group’s move to buy smaller UK peer Forward Partners and its move to raise £55 million (€63.4 million) in a share sale.


The UK’s FTSE 100 closed 0.4 per cent lower as losses in heavyweight industrial mining stocks weighed on the commodity-focused index, while luxury retailer Burberry slipped on a price target cut.

Industrial metal miners lost 0.5 per cent following a downturn in copper prices as worries about demand resurfaced after weak data from China.

Rightmove shares rose 4.8 per cent after the UK’s largest property portal lifted its forecast for annual average revenue per advertiser and added broker advice to its mortgage business.

Metro Bank soared 4.9 per cent on a report that Barclays is in exclusive talks to buy the lender’s £3 billion (€3.46 billion) residential mortgages portfolio. Metro Bank investors also backed a £925 million rescue package for the bank that hands majority control to its biggest shareholder, Colombian billionaire Jaime Gilinski.


Evotec and AstraZeneca shed 3.2 per cent and 2 per cent, respectively, on target price cuts by Jefferies, while shares of Bayer fell 3 per cent as Berenberg cut its price target.

Aryzta fell 7.1 per cent in Zurich as the Swiss-Irish baked goods group reported an easing in sales growth in the three months to the end of October.

Shares of Casino shed 6.3 per cent after the debt-burdened French retailer said it had received expressions of interest for the acquisition of its hypermarket and supermarket stores, declining to name the bidders and the number of stores it intended to sell.

New York

US stock indexes were mixed in early afternoon trading, ahead of a key inflation reading and commentary from Federal Reserve policymakers later in the week, while shares of some retailers edged higher as holiday shopping picked up steam with Cyber Monday deals.

Monday’s mixed movement follows a positive Thanksgiving week for Wall Street, with the major indexes notching up their fourth consecutive week of gains on growing optimism that the Federal Reserve was likely done hiking interest rates.

US retailers were on the radar after Black Friday and as Cyber Monday kicked off with shoppers estimated to spend a record $12 billion (€11 billion) to $12.4 billion. Shares of and Walmart edged up.

Affirm Holdings jumped as demand for the fintech’s ‘buy now, pay later’ service was seen hitting an all-time high, boosting the online holiday sales.

Among other stocks, Crown Castle International advanced as activist investor Elliott Investment Management, also a major shareholder, sought executive and board changes at the wireless tower owner.

GE HealthCare lost ground after UBS downgraded the medical devices maker to sell from neutral. – Additional reporting, Reuters

Joe Brennan

Joe Brennan

Joe Brennan is Markets Correspondent of The Irish Times