European markets rebound as tensions over Ukraine ease

Relief rally helps lead airlines Aer Lingus and Ryanair higher

European stocks surged today, reversing a big portion of the previous session's sharp losses after Russian president Vladimir Putin said he would only use force in neighbouring Ukraine as a last resort.

National benchmark indexes advanced in every western-European market except Iceland after MrPutin said he saw no need to invade Ukraine and is not considering annexing its Crimea region.

France’s CAC 40 and Germany’s DAX rallied 2.5 per cent. The FTSE 100 increased 1.7 per cent, while in Dublin, the Iseq was up 21.91 points or 0.43 per cent to 5,091.54.



The relief rally seen across most of Europe helped lead airlines Aer Lingus and Ryanair higher as investors breathed a sigh of relief as oil prices receded. The news that Ethihad's stake in Aer Lingus has gone over 3 per cent also buoyed the market. Aer Lingus closed up 3 per cent to €1.72 while its rival rose 1.6 per cent to €7.30.

The main focus however, was on Bank of Ireland after it was revealed that the US billionaire investor Wilbur Ross was selling a portion of his stake in the bank after the value of his investment had more than trebled.

Shares in Bank of Ireland plunged 10 per cent to close at 32 cents as the market digested the news, along with the lender's latest results, announced earlier this week.

Total Produce , which today revealed it posted pre-tax profits that rose 12.5per cent to €52.9 million last year, saw its shares rise 4 per cent to 98 cents.

Shares in bookmaker Paddy Power , which also announced its latest results this morning, closed virtually unchanged at €60.21 on relatively light volumes.


Stocks bounced back to their biggest increase since last July as comments from the Russian president defused concerns over Ukraine.

Glencore Xstrata gained 1.7 per cent to 331.9 pence after reporting a 20 per cent increase in full-year net income and raising its estimate for cost savings. Ashtead Group jumped to its highest price in at least 24 years after predicting that full year profit will exceed its expectations. It rallied 13 per cent to 956 pence, its highest price since at least 1989. Fresnillo fell 4.7 per cent 924.5 pence, the biggest slump since December, after 2013 earnings missed analysts' projections.


The Stoxx Europe 600 Index rose 2.1 per cent to 337.15 at the close of trading, having slumped 2.3 per cent the previous day after Russia’s parliament granted president Putin the authority to use force in Ukraine.

Finnish tyre maker Nokian Renkaat rose 3.6 per cent while Austrian lender Raiffeisen Bank International gained 5.8 per cent. The two companies derive respectively 26 per cent and 22 per cent of their overall revenues from Russia

Beiersdorf AG added 2 per cent as the maker of Nivea skin cream reported profit that beat estimates and predicted sales will rise as much as 6 per cent this year.


Wall Street also reacted positively to lessening tensions between Russia and Ukraine. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 192.01 points or 1.19 per cent, to 16,360.04, in early trading. The S&P 500 gained 24.33 points or 1.32 per cent, to 1,870.06 and the Nasdaq Composite added 71.772 points or 1.68 per cent, to 4,349.073.

Disney shares hit a record high after reaching a deal with Dish Network that allows the satellite TV provider to carry Disney-owned networks such as ABC and ESPN, and deliver the content outside of a traditional TV subscription. Disney shares were last up 3.1 per cent at $81.96 after earlier hitting $82.17.

Qualcomm rose 4 per cent to $76.54. The world's biggest mobile phone chip maker raised its share repurchase authorisation by $5 billion to $7.8 billion and increased its cash dividend by 20 per cent.

Charlie Taylor

Charlie Taylor

Charlie Taylor is a former Irish Times business journalist