European shares edge up to highest point since January 2018
HSBC weighs on London market, while Microsoft spurs fresh highs on Wall Street
Food group Kerry fell 1.8 per cent to €107.00, while cheesemaker Glanbia added 3.4 per cent to €11.00.
European shares touched their highest level since January 2018 on Monday, boosted by carmakers and mining stocks. Equities rose modestly on the day as investors digested a statement from US president Donald Trump that he expects to sign a significant part of a trade deal with China ahead of schedule.
On Wall Street, the S&P 500 reached a fresh high thanks to the easing of trade tensions and expectations that the Federal Reserve will cut interest rates at its two-day policy meeting.
Sterling strengthened slightly on news that the European Union will grant the UK an extension to its Brexit deadline until January 31st.
The Iseq nudged up in light bank holiday trading that saw few major moves. Building materials group CRH added almost 0.5 per cent to close at €33.14, but it was the opposite story for Ryanair, which fell 0.5 per cent to €11.70.
Food group Kerry fell 1.8 per cent to €107.00, while cheesemaker Glanbia added 3.4 per cent to €11.00. Insulation maker Kingspan rose 1.2 per cent to €47.16 and paper and packaging group Smurfit Kappa was another climber, up 0.7 per cent to €30.04.
Although banks across Europe fell, Bank of Ireland finished up 1 per cent at €4.24, while AIB added 1.6 per cent to €3.04.
The FTSE 100 index of blue-chip shares recovered from early losses to rise 0.1 per cent in London, while the more domestically focused FTSE 350 finished 0.2 per cent higher, as news of a Brexit extension was given a cautious reception and HSBC weighed on the market.
Asia-focused lender HSBC lost 3.7 per cent after it dropped its 2020 profit target and warned it would have to undertake costly restructuring amid a slowing global business environment.
AstraZeneca closed 0.7 per cent higher after saying a combination of its cancer drug, Imfinzi, along with chemotherapy helped curb progression of lung cancer in a late-stage study.
GlaxoSmithKline added 2.2 per cent after it said it had begun a late-stage study of its experimental antibiotic in patients with urinary tract infections and gonorrhoea.
Gains of between 1.3 per cent and 2.2 per cent in Glencore, BHP and Anglo American boosted the mining sector.
Delivery firm Just Eat rose 0.4 per cent amid an ongoing takeover battle. Takeaway.com, which agreed a merger deal with Just Eat, launched an attack on investor Prosus, which has also made its own bid for JustEat.
The pan-European Stoxx Europe 600 edged up 0.25 per cent. In Germany, the Dax added almost 0.4 per cent, while the French Cac 40 was 0.15 per cent higher at the close of the session.
Shares of Louis Vuitton owner LVMH closed down 0.5 per cent, after initially gaining on foot of a report that the company has approached US jewellery company Tiffany & Co with a $14.5 billion acquisition offer.
Another disappointment among banks was Spain’s Bankia , down 1.8 per cent after it signalled lending income could fall slightly in 2019 compared to 2018.
Technology stocks propelled the benchmark S&P 500 index to an all-time high, while the Nasdaq hovered below its record level, as a possible US-China trade deal and rising bets on a third rate cut by the Federal Reserve fuelled optimism.
Shares of Microsoft gained 2 per cent and were among the biggest boost to all three major indexes after the technology giant won the Pentagon’s $10 billion cloud computing contract, beating Amazon.com.
Spotify Technology was trading more than 14 per cent higher in the first half of the Wall Street session after the music streamer posted a surprise quarterly profit and beat revenue estimates.
Tiffany & Co surged about 31 per cent after LVMH made a $120 per share offer to buy the US luxury jewellery. – Additional reporting: Bloomberg / Reuters.