European shares dipped as investors eased off following a record first quarter and fears of a fresh Covid-19 wave once again cooled sentiment.
Insulation and building materials maker Kingspan put in one of the day's strongest performances, hitting a high of €73.20 in mid-morning trade before closing 3.58 per cent up at €72.30.
Dealers said an analysts’ report indicating that the company could benefit from lower raw materials costs, and thus higher margins, helped lure investors, as did the prospect that increased US infrastructure spending could boost the Irish group’s revenues.
Hopes that US president Joe Biden's administration could spend $3 trillion to $4 trillion on roads, bridges and other projects also lifted index heavyweight CRH, which added to Tuesday's gains by climbing a further 0.96 per cent to €39.97. The Irish group is one of the biggest building materials suppliers in the US.
Airline Ryanair handed back some of the previous day's advance, closing 1.08 per cent down at €16.545 as fears of further lockdowns in Europe left investors nervous of air travel stocks. Dealers noted that the carrier had made significant headway on Tuesday.
Irish banks also surrendered some of the ground they made earlier in the week. AIB slipped 1.58 per cent to €2.242. Bank of Ireland fell 2.08 per cent to €4.23.
Shipping company Irish Continental Group added 2.19 per cent to finish at €4.425.
The 26 per cent slump in Deliveroo Holdings' flotation price to 287.45 pence sterling dominated news in London on Wednesday. Controversy over labour practices and corporate governance had soured investors' appetites for the food company's shares before its public offering, making it one of the worst stock market launches in decades.
Elsewhere, pub group Fullers tapped investors for £53 million to shore up its finances after the lockdown. Backers were told that it will place 6.45 million new shares at a price of 830p each as part of the raise. Shares closed down 10p at 860p.
Topps Tiles said sales fell in the past quarter as homeowners' spending cooled. Sales for the six months to March 27th hit £103.6 million compared with £106.2 million. Shares closed up 0.2p at 69.2p.
Logistics giant Wincanton said it expects to beat market forecasts for the past year as deliveries rose during the pandemic. Shares closed up 18p at 389p.
The Stoxx Europe 600 Index dropped 0.2 per cent at the close, although still posting a fourth straight quarterly advance.
Utilities and tech shares gained, while banks and insurers fell. European stocks are poised to enter April, historically the best month for returns, with the Stoxx 600 within 1 per cent of a record high.
German airline Lufthansa shed some of Tuesday's gains, closing 1.22 per cent down at €11.30. Air France KLM dropped 2 per cent to €5.10.
CD Projekt SA slid 13 per cent to 190.5 Polish zloty after the computer-game maker's strategy update failed to offer reassurance that it will be able to monetise its Cyberpunk franchise in the long term.
The Stoxx 600 has rallied 7.7 per cent in the first quarter of the year, helped by this month’s best performance since November.
Bets on a vaccine-fuelled economic recovery have sent cyclicals surging in the first three months of 2021, with autos, banks and travel and leisure shares up around 20 per cent.
Technology shares helped the S&P 500 rise to a record high on Wednesday, as investors awaited details on Biden’s spending plans.
The Nasdaq jumped more than 1.5 per cent on Wednesday, but the index is about 6 per cent off its all-time peak as high-flying tech names have been hit by a surge in US 10-year bond yields.
Apple rose 2.6 per cent after brokerage UBS upgraded the stock to "buy" on stable long-term demand for iphones with better authorised service providers.
The technology sector added about 1.6 per cent, while financials and energy stocks dropped in a reversal of this quarter’s trend. – Additional reporting: Reuters