Steady day on markets with little stock-specific news

CRH closes unchanged in Dublin as Bank of Ireland treads water

It was a steady and dull day on the markets yesterday, with little by way of stock-specific news and little by way of economic data to affect sentiment.

Traders in Dublin said it was a busy enough day, and noted that the Irish exchange had held its own well when compared with its European peers.

Dublin was fairly flat, a pattern that was repeated across the continent.

CRH moved both up and down during the day before closing at €19.84, unchanged. It was one of the more traded stocks, along with Bank of Ireland, Ryanair, C&C and Smurfit Kappa.

Bank of Ireland treaded water through the day until finally closing down 0.66 per cent at €0.29.


Ryanair had a few buyers and at one stage was trading at €6.85. It closed at €6.74, a rise of 0.93 per cent. Traders said the stock has been fairly well wanted in recent times and that the interest showed no sign of waning just yet.

C&C, which has been under pressure since Friday, bounced back a bit yesterday and closed up 2.29 per cent at €4.33.

Smurfit fell 0.37 per cent to close at €19.04.

UK stocks were little changed, with the FTSE 100 index near an eight-month high, as declining commodity producers offset gains in Unilever, which reported quarterly sales growth that beat analysts' forecasts.

A gauge of London-listed mining companies fell 2 per cent. Kazakhmys, Kazakhstan's largest copper miner, retreated 4.9 per cent to 185.5 pence. Rio Tinto Group, the world's second biggest commodity producer, lost 3.1 per cent to 3,231.5 pence.

Antofagasta, which owns copper mines in Chile, dropped 3 per cent to 819.5 pence, and Anglo American, the world's largest platinum producer, slipped 2.7 per cent to 1,356 pence.

Unilever climbed 1.8 per cent to 2,480 pence after the consumer goods giant said fourth-quarter sales, excluding acquisitions and currency fluctuations, rose 4.1 per cent.

Standard Chartered gained 2.3 per cent to 1,358 pence. The Financial Times cited unnamed investment bankers as saying the lender was the "most likely target of a big banking takeover."

Carphone Warehouse lifted 1.7p to 281.5p as it reported a 5 per cent rise in like-for-like revenues for the UK in the third quarter to December 28th.

European stocks were also little changed, erasing earlier gains.

Danone, the world's largest yogurt maker, added 2.1 per cent to €52.11. Pernod Ricard advanced 3.7 per cent to €84.25.

Henkel increased 2 per cent to €85.35, its highest price since at least August 1992. The German maker of Schwarzkopf hair products and Loctite glue said it would increase its dividend payout to as much as 35 per cent of net income.

PSA Peugeot Citroen advanced 2 per cent to €10.41. Europe's second biggest carmaker is considering a capital increase of €3 billion.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 124.90 points, or 0.76 per cent, to 16,333.66 by noon.

J&J slipped 1.9 per cent to $93.28. The world's biggest maker of healthcare products forecast 2014 profit of $5.75 to $5.85 a share, excluding one-time items.

Verizon lost 2.6 per cent to $47.08. The second largest US. phone company added 1.6 million monthly subscribers during the fourth quarter, fewer than the record 2.1 million gained a year earlier.

Dow Chemical rallied 4.8 per cent to $45.13. Third Point, a hedge fund, took a stake in the firm.

Alcoa advanced 7 per cent, the most in the S&P 500, to $12.16. JPMorgan raised its rating on the largest US aluminium producer to overweight, a recommendation similar to buy, from neutral. – (Additional reporting Reuters, Bloomberg)

Colm Keena

Colm Keena

Colm Keena is an Irish Times journalist. He was previously legal-affairs correspondent and public-affairs correspondent