European shares decline for fifth straight week despite Friday gain
Turmoil continues on world stock markets
Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on March 18th. The floor has since closed in line with the state’s coronavirus measures and moved to fully electronic trading. Photograph: Johannes Eisele/AFP.
European shares ended higher for a second straight day on Friday, but pared most of the session’s gains amid renewed fears over the economic shock of the coronavirus pandemic. Equities across Europe have now declined for five consecutive weeks.
Investors had initially taken some comfort from emergency measures by the Bank of England on Thursday, as well as news of further sovereign bond issuance in Europe, but gains made on the back of stimulus measures failed to hold.
The Iseq index finished up 3.9 per cent, having earlier soared about 8 per cent in line with the more upbeat start to the day’s trading across Europe.
Bank stocks, which have been heavily hit in recent sessions, began a tentative recovery, with AIB closing up 3.6 per cent at just under 80 cent, although it had earlier soared 17 per cent. Bank of Ireland, meanwhile, saw its 12 per cent gain in the morning trimmed back to 2.2 per cent, with the stock finishing at just under €1.78.
Dalata Hotel Group, which has endured dramatic falls over the past month, added 10.8 per cent on Friday to finish at €1.95, while Ryanair rose 5.9 per cent to €8.81.
Cement-maker CRH, the Iseq heavyweight that has significant exposure to the US market, rose 7.8 per cent to €18.96, clawing back some of the losses of recent times. Glanbia added 6.5 per cent to €8.80, but food group Kerry fell 3.5 per cent to €104.00.
The FTSE 100 eked out a 0.8 per cent gain, with the index underperforming other major European indices after a fresh plunge in oil prices and sterling rebound weighed on its blue-chip exporters. The FTSE 250 index of mid-cap stocks added 5.95 per cent.
Marks & Spencer was the latest to warn about an impact in its clothing, homewares and international businesses, sending its shares down 7 per cent.
Holiday Inn owner IHG said demand for hotels was currently at the lowest levels it had ever seen and announced a series of measures to cut costs. But its shares, which had lost half their value since the virus emerged in Europe in mid-February, were up more than 15 per cent.
Media stocks fell, with Auto Trader Group bottoming out the sector with an 11.8 per cent drop after analysts cut their price targets.
London-listed C&C fell 1.3 per cent after the Irish cidermaker issued a profit warning on the “material impact” of the pandemic and said it was “unable to quantify” it at this stage.
The benchmark pan-European Stoxx 600 rose 1.8 per cent, having earlier jumped nearly 5 per cent. In Germany, the Dax climbed 3.7 per cent, while the French Cac 40 added 5 per cent. There was also partial relief for Spanish and Italian stocks, which added 0.7 per cent and 1.7 per cent respectively.
German electrical parts maker Osram Licht topped movements on the Stoxx 600, jumping nearly 40 per cent after Swiss semiconductor company AMS confirmed its public offer for the firm.
Separately, there were reports that Germany will protect domestic companies from foreign takeovers, after company valuations in Europe’s largest economy have been hammered by the coronavirus pandemic, wiping more than a third off the value of the Dax.
Wall Street see-sawed on Friday after New York’s governor ordered residents to stay at home, rattling investors who had taken comfort from fiscal and monetary stimulus measures to counter the coronavirus shock.
AT&T tumbled 6.4 per cent as the wireless carrier warned the outbreak might have a material impact on financial results and also cancelled a $4 billion share repurchase agreement.
Tech stocks were among the better performers, with Apple up 0.8 per cent after the first half of the session and Netflix adding 3 per cent. – Additional reporting: Reuters