European shares flat after day of ups and downs

Diageo and Shell among the bright spots, but Deutsche Bank leads financial stocks lower

Food group Kerry closed at €89.25, down almost 2.5 per cent, while insulation-maker Kingspan was another faller, down 3.1 per cent at €35.70

Food group Kerry closed at €89.25, down almost 2.5 per cent, while insulation-maker Kingspan was another faller, down 3.1 per cent at €35.70

 

European shares ended a choppy trading session flat as disappointing economic data, including a technical recession in Italy, gradually sapped an early boost provided by a dovish tone from the US Federal Reserve.

The Stoxx 600 ended the day up 0.04 per cent but rose a strong 6.1 per cent in January, its best monthly performance since October 2015, as global markets recovered from a turbulent 2018.

Dublin

The Iseq index fell almost 1.6 per cent as its biggest stocks ended the session in negative territory. CRH fell 0.6 per cent to €25.10, while Ryanair, which publishes quarterly results on Monday, edged down 0.2 per cent to €11.00.

Bank of Ireland fell 5 per cent to €5.23 as sentiment turned against bank stocks.

Paper and packaging group Smurfit Kappa, which sold €400 billion of bonds in a refinancing on Wednesday, dropped 5.5 per cent in Thursday’s session to €25.18.

Food group Kerry closed at €89.25, down almost 2.5 per cent, while insulation-maker Kingspan was another faller, down 3.1 per cent at €35.70.

Drinks company C&C rose 0.5 per cent to €3.30, adding to Wednesday’s gains, and Cairn Homes was up 0.8 per cent at €1.30, erasing much of the previous session’s losses, but it was a lacklustre day for most stocks on the Dublin market.

London

The FTSE 100 of blue-chip stocks finished 0.4 per cent higher, boosted by strong results for drinks group Diageo and oil major Shell.

Shell jumped almost 4 per cent as annual profits rose by more than a third to the highest level since 2014.

Diageo, the world’s largest spirits company, advanced 4.7 per cent to a record high after posting higher half-year sales, helped by strength in India and China.

Investors shunned bank stocks after a Bloomberg report on struggling Deutsche Bank. The so-called “big five” lenders in Britain – HSBC, Barclays, Lloyds, Standard Chartered and Royal Bank of Scotland – all fell.

Consumer goods giant Unilever dropped 2 per cent after its chief executive said he expected market conditions to remain challenging.

Europe

European equities were flat after a day of fluctuations. The German Dax ended 0.1 per cent lower and Italy’s FTSE MIB was down 0.2 per cent, though the French Cac 40 managed to close up almost 0.4 per cent.

Banks waned after a Bloomberg report that Deutsche Bank was expecting a government-brokered merger with rival Commerzbank to happen if its efforts to restructure fell short of targets. The German lenders fell 4 per cent and 6.7 per cent respectively.

Dutch telecoms company KPN climbed 6.2 per cent on speculation of a bid by Brookfield Asset Management. Telecom Italia jumped about 5 per cent after the US hedge fund Elliott raised its stake, escalating a power battle over the group with top shareholder Vivendi.

Swiss watchmaker Swatch tumbled 6.1 per cent after posting lower-than-expected results amid a downturn in Asia and France.

US

The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq extended a rally on Thursday, as strong earnings from Facebook added to optimism after the Federal Reserve said it would be patient in raising interest rates further this year, easing investor concerns about tighter financial conditions crimping economic growth.

Facebook jumped 12.2 per cent after its quarterly profit topped analysts’ estimates, showing that advertisers were still flocking to spend money on the service even after a series of high-profile embarrassments.

General Electric soared 14.7 per cent after it beat estimates for quarterly sales and cash flow and said it expects industrial revenue to rise in 2019.

Intel slipped 2.6 per cent after the chipmaker appointed interim chief executive Robert Swan on a permanent basis.

E-commerce behemoth Amazon was another big focus for investors as it was set to report results after the closing bell.

– Additional reporting: Reuters/Bloomberg