European financials buoyed by latest ECB funding drive

US markets in holding pattern ahead of Congress vote to dismantle Obamacare

Financial companies helped European stocks rise higher as lenders borrowed more than double what was forecast under the European Central Bank's last targeted longer-term refinancing operation (TLTRO). The Stoxx Europe 600 index rallied 0.9 per cent at the close, ending a three-day streak of losses.

US stocks, meanwhile, rose slightly, with gains limited by signs that US president Donald Trump was struggling to get enough votes to pass a healthcare Bill in Congress.

US investors on Thursday night remained in suspense, with Mr Trump poised to make a final push to secure the votes needed to begin dismantling Obamacare in the House of Representatives, amid signs enough Republicans might defect to jeopardise one of his top legislative priorities.



The Iseq matched gains elsewhere, closing the day 0.8 per cent up at 6,641. After falling 3 per cent on Wednesday, Bank of Ireland gained 1.7 per cent to trade at 23.7 cents. Also riding the positive wave for financials was Permanent TSB, which closed up 2 per cent at €2.40.

Ryanair was largely flat after a volatile week in which EU chiefs warned airlines of the need to relocate their headquarters away from the UK in the wake of Brexit.

Independent News & Media was down again,trading at 11.5 cents following this week's revelation that its chief executive had made a protective disclosure under the whistleblower legislation.

After losing ground on Wednesday, insulation maker Kingspan was up 2 per cent at €29.92 in line with sectoral trends.

Food stocks Glanbia, Aryzta and Kerry were all down, reflecting the weakness in sentiment elsewhere.


British shares turned up on Thursday after a two-day losing streak as markets turned more bullish and retail sales data indicated more robust consumption. The blue-chip FTSE 100 index rose 0.2 per cent but underperformed the broader European market, up 0.9 per cent, as the stronger pound held back its constituents whose earnings are mainly in foreign currencies.

Retailers were among top sectoral gainers. Clothing retailer Next was up 8.6 per cent and the top FTSE gainer in heavy volume, posting its best gains in nine months after it maintained its guidance for 2017-18 from January when it issued a surprise profit warning. Peer M&S was also a top gainer, up 3.7 per cent.

Shares in online gambling company GVC rose 5.4 per cent in heavy volume, among top Europe-wide gainers, after the firm said it would pay a second special dividend for 2016 on the back of strong trading.

Online trading company IG Group however was down 5 per cent, a top faller after posting a 3.8 per cent drop in quarterly revenue. IG said regulatory uncertainty had had no impact on its business so far.


In Europe, equity markets gained as banks took up €233.5 billion of four-year loans in the European Central Bank’s last targeted longer-term refinancing operation (TLTRO), well above the €125 billion expected. That suggested banks are keen to stock up on cheap cash in anticipation of a continued rise in lending. The Stoxx Europe 600 Index rallied 0.9 per cent at the close, ending a three-day streak of losses. The banks sector rose 0.8 per cent.

Digital security firm Gemalto extended its losses on Thursday, having slumped 17 per cent Wednesday, after cutting its profit forecast. Scandic Hotels Group rose 7.9 per cent after news that Sunstorm Holding, controlled by EQT V Ltd and Accent Equity 2003, divested all of its stake.


US stocks rose in early trading on Thursday as investors snapped up beaten-down bank stocks ahead of a vote on a healthcare Bill that is seen as US president Donald Trump’s first policy test.

Failure to pass the legislation, called the American Health Care Act, would cast doubt on Mr Trump’s ability to deliver other parts of his agenda that need the co-operation of the Republican-controlled Congress, including ambitious plans to overhaul the tax code and invest in infrastructure.

Ten of the 11 major S&P indexes were higher, with the financial index’s 1 per cent rise leading the advancers. The sector, which had its worst one-day fall since June on Tuesday, has risen the most since the election.

Bank of America's 1.6 per cent rise lifted the S&P, while Goldman Sachs's 1.1 per cent increase helped push the Dow higher.

Google-parent Alphabet fell 1.1 per cent to $840.09 as more firms pull YouTube ads on fears they may have appeared alongside offensive videos. The stock was the biggest drag on the S&P and the Nasdaq.

– (Additional reporting by Reuters and Bloomberg)

Eoin Burke-Kennedy

Eoin Burke-Kennedy

Eoin Burke-Kennedy is Economics Correspondent of The Irish Times