Trend positive despite mixed data

Iseq slips back as dealers indicate ‘pretty flat’ session with values up just over 0.5%

Markets were not exactly on fire yesterday, but the general trend was positive as the bank holiday weekend approached. International data was mixed, with UK growth coming in on target for the third quarter but US payroll numbers failing to meet expectations.

Dealers reported a "pretty flatline" day, with the market up just half a per cent at the close.

Bank of Ireland moved ahead slightly, finishing 0.1 cent stronger at 26.3 cent, while AIB added to its already hefty valuation by rising 0.6 cent to 10.8 cent.

Ryanair, which is among the raft of companies due to report numbers or update investors over coming weeks, was a touch lower after it announced a range of customer-friendly measures. Shares in the airline fell 17 cent to €6.16, while stablemate Aer Lingus shed 0.4 cent before settling at €1.399.


C&C, which reports next Wednesday, fell by 8.5 cent to close at €4.065.

ICG provided some newsflow by appointing Ardagh executive and former NCB (now Investec) head of equity sales John Sheehan as a non-executive director and flagging the retirement of Bernard Somers from the board. Shares rose six cent to €25.99.

Stocks advanced, with the benchmark FTSE 100 Index posting its third consecutive weekly increase, as a report showed the UK's economic growth last quarter met forecasts.

Royal Bank of Scotland rose 3.3 per cent after the Bank of England unveiled measures to widen lenders' access to funds. British Sky Broadcasting Group dropped 2.3 per cent after Macquarie said it may face competition for the rights to broadcast Champions League soccer.

Aberdeen Asset Management climbed 11 per cent after saying it is in talks to buy Scottish Widows Investment Partnership and form an alliance with Lloyds Banking Group.

The FTSE 100 advanced 8.16 points, or 0.1 per cent, to 6,721.34 at the close in London, its highest level in almost five months. The equity benchmark climbed 1.5 per cent this week and has risen 14 per cent so far this year.

The broader FTSE All- Share Index added 0.1 per cent

Some of the largest companies in the FTSE 100, including BP, AstraZeneca, BG Group and Barclays report their earnings next week.

Stocks posted a third weekly gain during which companies from Royal Philips to Akzo Nobel have reported profits that beat estimates and US jobs data fuelled bets the Federal Reserve will wait until March to pare stimulus.

Philips and Akzo Nobel rose more than 5 per cent. Celesio jumped 13 per cent after McKesson agreed to buy the German drug wholesaler for €3.9 billion. ABB increased 8.5 per cent as quarterly profit rose 10 per cent.

The Stoxx Europe 600 Index advanced 0.5 per cent to 320.09 this week, extending its rally so far this year to 14 per cent. The gauge climbed to a five-year high of 320.97 on October 22nd as it capped a nine-day winning streak, the longest since June 2010.

“We have profit growth, not a lot of it but we have it,” said Steven Bell, a London-based fund manager at F&C Asset Management. “That constitutes a lukewarm case for equities, but when you consider the alternatives, the attractiveness becomes greater.”

Stocks erased gains as losses in raw-material producers and healthcare providers offset a rally in technology shares.

Amazon. com and Microsoft rallied after reporting earnings that beat analysts' estimates.

Eastman Chemical slumped 6.9 per cent after cutting its full-year forecast. Express Scripts declined 3.8 per cent after the largest US processor of prescription drug claims reduced its 2013 cash flow forecast. – (Additional reporting, Bloomberg)

Una McCaffrey

Una McCaffrey

Una McCaffrey is an Assistant Business Editor at The Irish Times