European markets muted as US shares hit a record bull run

Markets report: Banking stocks drag down Iseq index, CRH gains ahead of results

Thursday was on track to mark the longest bull market rally in US history, stretching back to March 2009.  Photograph: Getty

Thursday was on track to mark the longest bull market rally in US history, stretching back to March 2009. Photograph: Getty


Irish shares and the broader European market struggled on Wednesday even as investors on Wall Street were preoccupied with the key S&P 500 index ending the session on a positive note, marking the longest US stock market bull run in history.

The Iseq index lost 0.2 per cent to 6,723.69, weighed down by banking stocks, while the pan-European Stoxx 600 index dipped by 0.03 per cent to 383.02.


Bank of Ireland lost 2.9 per cent to €7.09, even as the lender managed to sell €750 million of senior bonds, and AIB declined by 1.5 per cent to €4.756.

Ryanair was also out of sorts, losing 2.5 per cent to €1.15 as oil prices advanced. However, CRH managed to gained 0.7 per cent to €28.96 as investors crept into the stock ahead of the building materials group’s interim results, due on Thursday.

Dublin-based but London-listed DIY retailer and builders’ merchant group, Grafton soared as much as 6.4 per cent before ending the session up 2.3 per cent at £7.945, after the group posted better-than-expected results.

“We are likely to increase our Grafton full-year profit expectations modestly – this alone sets the stock apart in a sector context,” said Goodbody Stockbrokers analyst Michael Mitchell.


Britain’s top share index edged higher on Wednesday in cautious trade as investors kept an eye on US-China trade talks and politics in Washington, while heavyweight energy stocks supported the broader market.

The blue-chip FTSE 100 index ended the session up 0.1 per cent at 7,574.24 points as oil stocks rallied, while the mid-cap index was flat in percentage terms.

Sterling inched higher to trade at its highest level in two weeks. This kept the pressure on the FTSE’s dollar-earning constituents, with big consumer stocks such as Diageo, British American Tobacco and Reckitt Benckiser all down between 0.3 and 0.9 per cent.

Shares in paper packaging group Mondi rose 1.4 per cent after Jefferies called it a “long-term quality play”.


German automotive supplier Continental dropped more than 14 per cent on the back of a profit warning, with the group cutting its full-year sales and margin guidance, citing lower revenues, higher costs for developing hybrid and electric car technologies, and unspecified warranty claims.

Elsewhere, shares in Belgian biopharma Argenx rose 4.7 per cent after Abbvie exercised an option to develop and commercialise a drug.

Though Atlantia rose earlier in the session, shares in the Italian infrastructure group declined steadily throughout the day and ended nearly 4 per cent lower.

The group said it had started looking at the impact on its shares and bonds of government plans to strip it of its motorway concessions after the Genoa bridge collapse.


The S&P 500 set its longest-ever bull-market run on Wednesday. The benchmark index’s bull run has now stretched for 3,453 days, the longest streak by commonly-used definitions, and comes a day after it hit a record intraday high. The benchmark S&P 500 index has more than quadrupled since the lows of March 2009.

Markets barely budged after the release of minutes from the Federal Reserve’s policy meeting that ended August 1st. Futures traders priced in a slightly higher chance that the Fed will increase rates two more times this year.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 62.1 points, or 0.24 per nt, to 25,760.19. The S&P 500 gained 1.56 points, or 0.05 per cent, to 2,864.52 and the Nasdaq Composite added 37.08 points, or 0.47 per cent, to 7,896.25.

The consumer discretionary index climbed on the back of strong results from retailers Target and Lowe’s sent their shares to record highs.

Urban Outfitters rose and furniture maker La-Z-Boy advanced after their results topped Wall Street estimates. Both stocks hit all-time highs. – Additional reporting: Reuters, Bloomberg