European shares enjoy strongest week since January

Shares in Fyffes surge almost 49% after news Sumitomo is to acquire the fruit distributor

US stocks followed European markets higher on Friday while the euro weakened against the dollar after the European Central Bank’s Thursday decision to extend its stimulus programme.

European shares hit their highest level since January and were set for their best week since February, following the ECB’s decision to cut monthly bond buys to €60 billion and extend purchases to December.

DUBLIN

Shares in

Fyffes

soared on Friday following the announcement that Toyko-headquartered

Sumitomo

is to buy the Irish fruit distributor for €751 million. The company’s stock was trading close to the deal level of €2.25 per ordinary share on heavy volumes. It closed up almost 49 per cent at €2.22.

Fyffes’s strong performance pushed up the Iseq, which ended the day up 44.07 points to 6.440.05.

Bank of Ireland was down 2.6 per cent to 23 cents having traded 5.8 per cent lower earlier in the day on news that Fairfax Financial Holdings was selling 415 million shares in the bank.

Insurer FBD saw good volume with half a million shares trading at €6.30. It finished the week up 0.5 per cent at €6.26.

More than 600,000 shares were traded in Kerry Group on Friday at €64.36. It closed up 1.5 per cent to €65.

Ryanair outperformed its rivals and ended the day up 0.7 per cent to €14.57, while Smurfit Kappa finished down 1.4 per cent at €21.90.

LONDON

Britain’s top stock index recorded its biggest weekly rise in five months, with a late boost on Friday when Sky shares surged by more than 25 per cent on a takeover approach from Twenty-First Century Fox.

Sky shares recorded their biggest ever one-day percentage gain after the European pay-TV group said it had been approached by Rupert Murdoch’s Twenty-First Century Fox, which already owns 39.1 per cent of the company.

Sky helped the blue-chip FTSE 100 to close 0.3 per cent higher, taking the index’s total gains for the week to more than 3 per cent, the biggest weekly rise since early July.

Barclays, Lloyds and Royal Bank of Scotland fell between 1.3 per cent and 2.5 per cent after Britain's financial watchdog decided to delay its final verdict on setting a deadline for consumers to claim compensation for being mis-sold debt repayment insurance.

GlaxoSmithKline and Shire rose 1.2 per cent and 2.4 per cent respectively, while British American Tobacco, Imperial Brands and Unilever gained between 1.1 per cent and 1.9 per cent. AstraZeneca rose nearly 4 per cent after its immunotherapy drug durvalumab was accepted for review by US regulators to treat bladder cancer.

EUROPE

European shares rallied near 11-month highs on Friday after a strong week, helped by gains among media companies after a takeover bid ignited Sky’s shares, though Italian banks were under pressure.

Monte dei Paschi’s shares plummeted more than 10 per cent after the ECB rejected the bank’s request for more time to raise capital, virtually erasing all gains made this week on bets a way could be found to rescue the ailing lender, even involving state aid.

Elsewhere, Amsterdam-based digital security company Gemalto rose 6.3 per cent after agreeing to buy 3M's identity-management business for $850 million.

WALL STREET

US stocks extended the longest winning streak since June to six days, as investors speculate that US president-elect Donald Trump’s policies will boost the economy enough to withstand the effects of higher interest rates.

Coca-Cola rose 2.9 per cent and was among the top stocks on the Dow after the company said Muhtar Kent would step down as chief executive and named chief operating officer James Quincey as his successor.

Broadcom was the top percentage gainer on the S&P, rising 4.9 per cent after the chipmaker reported upbeat fourth-quarter results and doubled its dividend.

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