Markets had a quiet day yesterday, taking their lead from the US, where the Thanksgiving holiday continued to set the mood. In Europe, positive news on unemployment failed to catch anybody’s imagination, with investors choosing to sit on the sidelines to await next week’s US jobs data, which could in turn offer signals on the Federal Reserve’s tapering plans.
“With the short trading day in the US and the Thanksgiving holiday, volume is low and there aren’t many impulses for big moves before next week,” said Patrick Kraehenbuehl, a portfolio manager at Umblin in Zurich.
The Iseq barely budged, tipping 0.03 per cent into the red at the close. There was little in the way of newsflow beyond an analyst visit to Aer Lingus's operation at Dublin Airport, which had little effect on the airline's shares. Aer Lingus ended the day 1.7 cent lower at €1.353, while its rival Ryanair fell by 0.4 cent to €6.14.
The star player in the session was Bank of Ireland, which is seen by many investors as a mirror for an Irish economic recovery. Shares in the bank climbed by 4.38 per cent, or 1.2 cent, to 28.6 cent, with volume fairly decent in the context of a slow day.
Elsewhere, CRH did its bit to hold back the index, closing 11 cent lower at €18.66.
Aryzta was also weaker, shedding 105 cent to close at €54.80, as shareholders look ahead to the company's December 10th agm in Zurich.
UK stocks erased gains in the final half an hour of trading, with the benchmark FTSE 100 Index posting its first monthly loss since August, as the pound strengthened to a two-year high. Experian lost 2.8 per cent for the biggest decline on the FTSE 100 after Goldman Sachs recommended selling the credit-reference company's shares. Speedy Hire tumbled the most since January 2009 after the construction-equipment leasing company reported accounting irregularities and its chief executive resigned. Barclays advanced 2.3 per cent, pushing up a gauge of banks.
The FTSE 100 dropped 3.9 points, less than 0.1 per cent, to 6,650.57 at the close in London, erasing an earlier advance of as much as 0.4 per cent.
The equity benchmark has slid 1.2 per cent in November. It has still rallied 13 per cent this year, supported by central banks’ pledges on interest rates. The FTSE All- Share Index fell less than 0.1 per cent.
European stocks were little changed, completing a third monthly gain, apparently unaffected by the euro-area unemployment data.
Kesko, Finland's biggest publicly traded retailer, rallied 8.8 per cent. Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena added 1.5 per cent as Italy's third-largest lender set out a plan to return to profit after cutting costs and raising capital as part of its restructuring plan.
The Stoxx Europe 600 Index climbed less than 0.1 per cent to 325.24, reaching its highest level since May 2008. The equity benchmark rose 0.8 per cent in November and 16 per cent so far this year. The gauge has gained 0.9 percent this week.
US stocks fell, erasing gains in the final half hour of a shortened trading session, as declines in phone and financial shares offset a rally in online retailers on Black Friday. Archer-Daniels-Midland fell 3 per cent after Australia blocked a A$2.2 billion takeover of GrainCorp. EBay and Amazon. com gained at least 1.8 per cent. Best Buy and Coach advanced more than 1.4 per cent as retailers opened their doors to holiday shoppers. Apple rose 1.9 per cent after a report showed the company sold three of every four smartphones in Japan last month.
"It's a very light volume day," said John Manley of Wells Fargo Funds Management in New York. "The last few minutes on the Friday after Thanksgiving are going to be subject to light volume." (Additional reporting, Bloomberg)