European shares finish at two-week low but shave losses late on

Markets report: Ryanair one of only gainers as Iseq closes lower with most stocks in red

European shares closed at a two-week low on Wednesday on investor fears about an impeachment inquiry into US president Donald Trump and worsening rhetoric on US-China trade. However, shares did shave losses in late trade after Mr Trump said a deal with China could happen sooner than expected.


The Iseq underperformed most of its European peers, down 80 basis points, with most stocks falling into the red.

Ryanair was one of the few to stay in positive territory, closing up 1.5 per cent as it and other low-fare airlines continued to benefit from the the fallout from Thomas Cook.


Origin, announced better-than-expected results on Wednesday, up 11 per cent, although this was on light volumes. Total Produce also gained, up 1 per cent while other food groups fared less well with Aryzta down 0.9 per cent and Kerry Group closing 1 per cent lower.

Banks were also firmly in negative territory with Bank of Ireland losing 3.3 per cent and AIB, 1.7 per cent.

Housebuilders were lower with Cairn Homes down 2.2 per cent and Glenveagh falling 2.5 per cent.


Britain’s mid-cap share index fell by its most in six weeks on Wednesday, weighed down by uncertainty over Brexit as parliament reconvened after a court ruling against the prime minister.

The FTSE 250, made up of firms that tend to be more reliant on the UK market than the exporter-heavy FTSE 100, shed 0.7 per cent, its biggest one-day drop since August 14th. The FTSE 100, meanwhile, closed flat after recovering from an initial slide with the help of a steep drop in sterling.

Among the blue-chip climbers, tobacco firms British American Tobacco and Imperial Brands rose 3.3 per cent and 2.3 per cent, respectively, after their US rival Philip Morris ended merger talks with Altria.

Sainsbury's added 2 per cent after the supermarket chain laid out a new plan to cut costs, speed up debt reduction and overhaul its store estate and financial services division as it reported better trading in the recent quarter.

Elsewhere, internet-based fashion retailer Boohoo managed a modest gain after its shares fell as much as 4 per cent as result of profit taking.


The pan-European stocks index lost as much as 1.4 per cent during the session but closed down 0.6 per cent after recovering some ground in the last hour of European trading on President Trump’s comment about the possibility of a trade deal with China.

Semiconductor shares including AMS and ASM International lost, while export-reliant Germany slipped 0.6 per cent, putting the STOXX overall firmly on course for its first weekly fall since mid August.

Shares in France's EDF dropped 6.59 per cent, to the bottom of the STOXX 600, after the state-controlled power group said its Hinkley Point C nuclear plant in Britain could cost an extra £2.9 billion (€3.2 billion).

After two days of solid gains, travel company TUI was the biggest decliner in the travel and leisure segment which logged it biggest daily fall in six weeks.


After a sluggish start on Wednesday US stock indexes rose after Mr Trump’s talk of a trade deal with China. Elsewhere, Nike’s shares hit a record high on upbeat quarterly results.

Nike shares jumped 5.1 per cent and were among the top boosts to the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 after the company's first-quarter results beat market expectations. Footwear retailer Foot Locker gained 3.3 per cent on the back of the news.

Shares in Philip Morris surged 6.2 per cent after the tobacco company called off merger talks with Altria and said it would instead focus on the US launch of its tobacco-heating product, iQOS.

Boeing rose 1.7 per cent, after the aircraft maker said it created a new permanent safety committee in the aftermath of two fatal 737 MAX crashes.

Additional reporting: Reuters

Charlie Taylor

Charlie Taylor

Charlie Taylor is a former Irish Times business journalist