China’s decision to halve US tariffs boosts European shares

US stocks also advance as most indexes rise

Paddy Power owner Flutter Entertainment, whose deal to buy Star Group also faces scrutiny from British competition watchdogs, shed 2.52 per cent end the day at €99.38

Paddy Power owner Flutter Entertainment, whose deal to buy Star Group also faces scrutiny from British competition watchdogs, shed 2.52 per cent end the day at €99.38

 

China’s decision to halve extra tariffs on some US goods boosted European markets on Thursday while Irish insurer FBD forged ahead on news that it made €100 million profit last year.

DUBLIN

Shares in FBD surged after the insurer said that profit for last year was expected to be “at least €100 million”, significantly ahead of what the market expected.

FBD attributed the strong performance to “exceptionally benign weather” and better-than-anticipated investment returns in a statement released around lunchtime on Thursday. Shares closed 8.14 per cent up at €9.30.

Building materials and insulation specialist Kingspan rose 2.56 per cent to €58.15. The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority said it would investigate the Irish group’s planned €37 million purchase of British company Building Solutions.

The inquiry is one of the normal regulatory hurdles that such deals must overcome.

Real estate investment trust Hibernia Reit climbed 2.25 per cent to €1.366. Private landlord Irish Residential Properties Reit gained 1.49 per cent to €1.64.

Packaging maker Smurfit Kappa fell 1.41 per cent to €33.52.

However, the drop in its value followed a strong performance the previous day, the group published good financial results.

Paddy Power owner Flutter Entertainment, whose deal to buy Star Group also faces scrutiny from British competition watchdogs, shed 2.52 per cent end the day at €99.38.

Meanwhile, Bank of Ireland slid 5,06 per cent to €4.314 while fellow lender, AIB, inched up 0.48 per cent to €2.52.

LONDON

Royal Mail shareholders took flight after the company warned its UK division could be loss-making next year and may miss turnaround targets amid the threat of strike action.

Shares closed down 5.5 per cent at 178.9p sterling – but hit record lows during the day, down 11 per cent at times.

Investors in travel firm On the Beach hoping to cash in on the demise of Thomas Cook will have to wait a little longer, according to bosses, who said the full payoff will come in the second half of the year.

But they seemed happy enough with the news and promise of “unprecedented opportunity”, with shares closing up 6.67 per cent at 432p.

Shares in Imperial Brands closed up 25.8p at 1,847.4p – although they had fallen by more than 7 per cent on Wednesday.

EUROPE

Lenders Unicredit, DNB and Nordea Bank all rallied more than 6 per cent after reporting strong quarters. Germany’s Deutsche Bank posted its best day in more than eight years after revealing that a new shareholder, Los Angeles-based Capital Group, took a 3.1 per cent stake in the company.

All this saw the euro zone banks index post its biggest daily gain in a month. Italy’s bank-heavy MIB jumped 1 per cent to close its highest in nearly two years, with Fiat Chrysler’s 0.8 per cent rise adding to the rise.

Drugmaker Sanofi was the biggest boost to Europe’s Stoxx 600 as well as the main index in Paris after it forecast further profit growth for 2020. Oil major Total’s 1 per cent rise on beating quarterly results also lifted French stocks.

Worries over coronavirus shaved 3 per cent off the Stoxx 600 last week, but the benchmark is now on pace to log its biggest weekly gains since December 2016.

US

US stocks advanced for the fourth straight session on Thursday with the S&P 500 and Dow Industrials hitting record highs on China’s efforts to contain the economic fallout of the coronavirus outbreak.

Nine of the 11 major indexes were higher, led by a 1.2 per cent gain for communication services stocks.

An 9.6 per cent slide in Becton, Dickinson and Co weighed the most on the S&P 500 after the medical technology company lowered its full-year revenue and profit forecasts.

Philip Morris International Inc gained 3.9 per cent after the Marlboro cigarettes maker topped quarterly profit estimates. – Additional reporting Reuters