European shares edge higher but banks waver on policy talk
Ryanair, Kingspan, Dalata and Kerry Group among the main movers in Dublin
Key stock indexes in Europe and on Wall Street climbed on Thursday, but a gauge of global equities was little changed, with gains offset by a decline in emerging markets. Photograph: Getty Images
Global equity markets and the dollar edged higher on Thursday, helped by fresh data showing a tighter US labour market, as investors stayed cautious before the first meeting between President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping.
Key stock indexes in Europe and on Wall Street climbed, but a gauge of global equities was little changed, with gains offset by a decline in emerging markets.
The Iseq index ended the day in positive territory despite heavyweight CRH closing lower. The index was up 28.89 points to 6,679.52 with Ryanair, Kingspan and Dalata among the gainers.
Ryanair, which has been in the news for much of the week after publishing strong passenger figures and announcing plans to offer travellers connecting flights for the first time, closed 2 per cent higher at €15.14.
Bank of Ireland followed other European banks higher after a somewhat topsy-turvy performance after ECB chief Mario Draghi triggered talk over the outlook for monetary policy in the region. BoI was up 2 per cent to 24 cents.
Other movers in Dublin included hotels group Dalata, up 3 per cent to €3.77, and Kerry Group, up 1.8 per cent to €75.77.
British shares dropped after minutes of the Federal Reserve’s last meeting indicated the bank would shrink its balance sheet later this year. The FTSE 100 was down 0.4 per cent at 7,303.20 points at its close, with financials the biggest drag taking almost 11 points off the index.
Lloyds, which traded ex-div, was among the biggest fallers, down 2.2 per cent, while Barclays fell 1 per cent. Pearson was down 6.7 per cent, also ex-div and further weighed by a downgrade from Exane to “underperform”’.
Shares in EasyJet were the top gainers, rising 4.2 per cent. Intellectual property firm Allied Minds was the biggest mid-cap faller, down 5.4 per cent and touching a record low, trading below its IPO price for the first time.
European shares ended slightly higher with banks seeing a volatile session following Mr Draghi’s dovish comments on monetary policy earlier in the day.
Banks were initially hit after Mr Draghi poured cold water on expectations of tightening measures in remarks suggesting the European Central Bank would not change its policy message this month.
The STOXX 600 index reversed losses to end 0.2 per cent higher, while Germany’s DAX gained 0.1 per cent.
Among real estate stocks, French-headquartered Unibail Rodamco provided the biggest boost to the sectoral index with a rise of 1.7 per cent.
The top two fallers among euro zone banks were Austria’s Raiffeisen Bank and Germany’s Commerzbank, down 1.1 per cent and 0.8 per cent respectively.
AstraZeneca fell 1.3 per cent after a UBS downgrade to neutral, while German airport operator Fraport rose 4.4 per cent with traders linking the rise to an upgrade to “buy” from Société Générale. German drugs packaging firm Gerresheimer dropped nearly 5 per cent after reporting results for the first quarter.
US stocks were higher early on Thursday, led by financial and consumer discretionary companies, but gains were kept in check by cautious trading ahead of the Trump-Xi meeting and on uncertainty about quick US fiscal stimulus.
Comcast rose 2.6 per cent after the cable company announced its entry into the US wireless business. Also boosting the S&P index was L Brands, which jumped 10 per cent after reporting a smaller-than-expected drop in March sales.
Among the laggards was chipmaker AMD, which sank 7 per cent after Goldman Sachs started overage with a “sell” rating. – Additional reporting: Reuters