European markets down as investors fret over Ukraine threat

Iseq drops 1.6% on Monday as banks and travel stocks drag it down

European shares dropped to a four-month low on Monday, with auto and technology stocks leading the losses after comments from the Kremlin quelled hopes of a resolution to Europe’s biggest military crisis in decades, which is taking place on the Ukraine-Russia border.

The Iseq in Dublin fell more than 1.6 per cent. UK shares also shed early gains to end lower over the tensions, while US markets remained closed for the President’s Day holiday.

DUBLIN

Irish banks were among the most prominent fallers on a challenging day for many shares.

After a warning from Irish competition officials that Bank of Ireland's deal to buy KBC's mortgage book would substantially lessen competition, BoI's share price dropped more than 2.3 per cent to €6.14. AIB fell 1.5 per cent to €2.56 and Permanent TSB was down 2.3 per cent to €1.68.

Cairn Homes fell sharply in the morning session and failed to recover in the afternoon. It finished down 4.6 per cent to €1.18.

Travel stocks also fared poorly. Ryanair, which announced boosts to capacity in several UK and Irish airports last week, was down by 2.1 per cent to €16.15. Dalata, the country's largest hotel group, fell 1.6 per cent to €3.90. Irish Continental Group, the owner of Irish Ferries, was down 3.4 per cent to €4.05 per share.

FBD was one of the few risers, the insurance group finishing ahead by 2.3 per cent to €10.95.

LONDON

The FTSE 100 index closed 0.4 per cent down, while the domestically focused mid-cap index declined 1.2 per cent and hit a more than 11-month low.

Russia-exposed miners Polymetal International and Evraz fell 8.5 per cent and 5.7 per cent, respectively, on the possibility of any sanctions imposed in the event of a Russian invasion.

Heavyweight drugmaker AstraZeneca climbed 4 per cent after saying its cancer drug helped patients with a type of advanced breast cancer live longer.

Edinburgh-based John Menzies is likely to be sold to a Kuwaiti company after bosses said they planned to accept a renewed offer of nearly £560 million (€672m). The board said that NAS, a subsidiary of Agility Public Warehousing, had upped its bid for the company by around £90 million. Shares closed down 3p at 580p.

Bosses at warehouse and supply chain specialist Clipper Logistics also said they would accept a bid for the company from US rival GXO Logistics, valuing the firm at £943 million. Shares closed up 103p, or 13.3 per cent, to 880p.

Finsbury Foods, the manufacturer behind Weight Watchers branded cakes, revealed it saw record sales in the last six months of the year, but warned that prices are increasing for customers. Revenues hit £166.5 million, up 9 per cent on the year before, but the company faced higher costs sending pre-tax profits down from £7.4 million to £5.7 million. Shares closed down 3p at 85.5p.

EUROPE

The pan-European Stoxx 600 slid 1.3 per cent to its lowest level since October over the concerning headlines related to the Russia-Ukraine conflict. The technology sub-index shed 2.6 per cent to its lowest since March last year and marked their fourth straight day of losses. The sector, along with the European benchmark, has spent seven of eight weeks in negative territory so far this year.

Paris blue-chips touched their lowest level since early December and German stocks fell to 11 month lows.

Worldline dropped 2.9 per cent after the French payments company said it has entered exclusive talks to sell its TSS terminals business to US financial company Apollo Funds in a deal potentially worth around €2.3 billion.

French vaccine maker Valneva climbed 1.6 per cent after saying its Scottish unit has received a grant of up to £20 million to partly fund the research and development of manufacturing its Covid-19 vaccine VLA2001.

(Additional reporting: Reuters/PA)

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