Bank and mining company shares fall

Alphabet again takes over from Apple as world’s most valuable public company

Apple lost its status as the world's most valuable public company to Google's parent, Alphabet, in US trading as markets closer to home, in Europe, fell after a choppy session weighted down by disappointing earnings updates.

The iPhone maker's dip behind Google in trading on Thursday in New York was the second time this year such a move has occurred. A similar drop happened in early February after Alphabet reported fourth-quarter results that beat analysts' expectations. Apple took back the lead the next day.

In Europe, the Stoxx 600 index, a benchmark for the region, slid 0.5 per cent to 333.11 at the close of trading.



The Iseq index fell 0.3 per cent to 6,141.9, with banking stocks again a weak point.

Permanent TSB slid 3.9 per cent to €1.956 as investors continued to fret about the Government's pledge to keep pressure on banks to lower borrowing costs for mortgage customers.

The stock is now trading at 56 per cent less than the €4.50 price at which the government sold shares in the bank in 2015.

Bank of Ireland, which has so far resisted pressure to lower interest rates, fell 2 per cent to 24.1 cent.

Ryanair lost 2.2 per cent to €12.91. Goodbody Stockbrokers analyst Mark Simpson said that Ryanair may seek to rein in market expectations for its current year to March 2017 when it publishes full-year figures later this month. Mr Simpson sees the company guiding for 10 per cent to 15 per cent growth.

CRH rose 0.6 per cent to €25.69 as investors shrugged off a weak set of first-quarter results from Franco-Swiss rival LafargeHolcim.

Smurfit Kappa rose 1.4 per cent to €23.93 as industry peer Mondi issued a strong update.


Britain's top share index fell in volatile trading, pulled lower by declines among mining companies. The FTSE 100 index was down 1 per cent at 6,104.19 at its close, reversing earlier oil-related gains. Mining companies were the top fallers on the blue-chip index, with Anglo American, Antofagasta, BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto and Glencore all falling between 2.9 per cent and 6.9 per cent.

The British mining sector has fallen around 20 per cent below a year high reached in April, although it is still up more than 18 per cent in 2016.

ITV fell 2.5 per cent, taking this month’s losses to around 6.6 percent. The commercial broadcaster said companies were holding back from buying advertising before next month’s EU referendum.

Caterer Compass Group was top gainer, rising 1.6 per cent after brokers RBC Capital Markets and Natixis raised their target prices for the stock.


Bayer fell 4.8 per cent after Bloomberg reported that the German group was exploring a bid for Monsanto, while BASF fell 2.1 per cent after financial news website Street Insider reported it was also looking at a Monsanto acquisition.

Aegon was the worst-performing stock in the region. The Dutch insurer slumped 11.4 per cent after reporting a smaller than expected first-quarter underlying pre-tax profit of €462 million.

Credit Agricole fell 4.9 per cent after the French bank reported a 71 per cent fall in quarterly net income, while Italian insurer Generali slipped 4 per cent after weak interest rates and fewer capital gains sent its net profit down 12 per cent.

But KBC rose 4.6 per cent after the Belgian financial group posted a better net profit than expected.


Major US stock indexes closed mixed. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 9.38 points, or 0.05 perent, to 17,720.5 and the S&P 500 lost 0.35 points, or 0.02 perent, to 2,064.11. The Nasdaq Composite dropped 23.35 points, or 0.49 per cent, to 4,737.33.

Apple shares fell 2.4 per cent to a two-year low on concerns about iPhone demand. The stock was the biggest drag on all three major indexes.

– (additional reporting Reuters)

Joe Brennan

Joe Brennan

Joe Brennan is Markets Correspondent of The Irish Times