Buoyant mood sets new highs in European markets

Dublin fails to follow European peers as leading stocks act as drag on index

European stocks surpassed their recent highs as Greece won tentative approval for a four-month extension from euro zone ministers.

The news was followed by a statement from the US central bank indicating that it would be "patient" in raising interest rates. Both developments boosted equities across Europe.


The Dublin market failed to follow its European peers as a number of its leading stocks, including food and ingredients group



acted as a drag on the index.

The group’s shares were down around 3 per cent at one point in Dublin, following a mixed reaction to its preliminary results, which it published on Tuesday morning.

However, investors began taking a more positive view as the day wore on and they closed just 0.12 per cent off at €64.61 after spiking shortly before trade ended.

Real estate investment trust Green Reit which issued results shortly after the close on Monday, climbed 2.08 per cent to €1.47. Close to six million of its shares were traded in Dublin yesterday. Dealers said that there was "good volume" at around the €1.47-€1.48 mark.

Aer Lingus, the subject of a proposed €2.55 offer by IAG gained 1.26 per cent to close at €2.258. The airline issued results showing an underlying operating profit of €72 million for 2014, its best performance for some years, but the focus remained on a possible deal.

The Government, which controls 25 per cent of the company, issued a statement saying that IAG’s proposals did not go far enough to addressing concerns on connectivity, but which left the door open for further talks. Dealers said that it has settled at around the €2.25 mark in recent days.

Packaging group Smurfit Kappa added 1.84 per cent to €24.30 after one of its peers reported good numbers.

Ryanair shed 2.26 per cent to end the day at €9.96. Traders said that there was no particular reason for the lack of interest in the low-cost carrier, but pointed out that it was one of the shares that kept the index subdued.

Index heavyweight, building material group CRH, which publishes its preliminary results tomorrow, was flat, shedding 0.12 per cent to €24.92.


BHP Billiton Ltd

rose 6.2 percent. The world’s biggest mining company raised its dividend, reported earnings that beat analysts’ projections and said it will cut costs.

Irish based builders' merchant and DIY specialist, Grafton, was down 1.54 per cent at 735.50p.


Greece’s ASE Index soared 9.8 per cent, following a market holiday on Monday as euro zone leaders approved a bailout extension for four more months. The gauge rose to the highest level since former Prime Minister Antonis Samaras announced elections in December, triggering concern over debt negotiations.

National Bank of Greece and Alpha Bank AE rallied 17 percent. "Today is a huge relief for the banks, which are a big part of the index, because part of the story is that they will be kept afloat," said analyst Jean-Paul Jeckelmann.

Finmeccanica SpA dropped 0.9 per cent as its chief financial officer said the company won't pay a special dividend after selling some units to Hitachi Ltd. Trading was briefly halted in Milan after the shares fell 3.6 per cent. The stock earlier rose as much as 4.5 percent as the Italian firm and Hitachi announced the deal.


Home Depot

shares gained 3.9 per cent, boosting the S&P 500 and the Dow. The home improvement retailer reported a better-than-expected quarterly same-store sales and announced an $18 billion share buyback program.

JPMorgan Chase climbed 2.5 per cent after the bank told investors it aims to save about $1.4 billion in annual expenses. It also forecast about 10 percent core loan growth in 2015.

–(Additional reporting: Reuters/Bloomberg)

Barry O'Halloran

Barry O'Halloran

Barry O’Halloran covers energy, construction, insolvency, and gaming and betting, among other areas