European shares hit two-week low as banks, airlines tumble

Iseq closes lower with Bank of Ireland, Ryanair and Mincon among the movers

European shares hit a two-week low on Wednesday, extending losses from the previous session, weighed down by weaker banks and a plunge in security services firm Gemalto following a profit warning.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index ended down 0.4 per cent, little affected by the attack in London near the British parliament.

The index fell as much as 1 per cent earlier in the day to its lowest since March 9th as global markets were hit by worries that US president Donald Trump could struggle to deliver on his reflationary economic policies.


Shares were somewhat volatile in trading on Wednesday, opening lower following a big sell-off in the US, before recovering somewhat but falling again later in the day after the attack in Westminster. The Iseq index of leading shares closed down 1 per cent to 6,591.81.


Banking shares across Europe performed badly with Bank of Ireland down almost 3 per cent to 23.3 cents and Permanent TSB, closing 1.7 per cent lower at €2.36.

Airlines were also largely lower after EU chiefs warned airlines that they will need to relocate their headquarters away from London following Brexit. Ryanair, which is headquartered in Dublin, outperformed most of its peers, ending the day down 1.5 per cent to €14.49.

Independent News and Media was in the headlines following revelations that its chief executive recently made a protected disclosure under whistleblower legislation. The publisher, which this week reported full-year revenues of €323.4 million, was down 1.7 per cent to 11.8 cents with about half a million shares traded.

Mincon, which also announced annual results on Tuesday, closed up 7 per cent at 91 cents with more than six million shares traded. Other Irish explorers also got a boost with the likes of Ormonde, Petroneft and Providence all ending higher.

There was also a decent amount of volume in Kingspan, which was down 1.5 per cent at €29.35 after Kingfisher lost 5 per cent following a warning over Brexit and the forthcoming French elections.


The London market sunk deeper into the red on Wednesday as shares in Kingfisher dropped and investor enthusiasm for the US president's promised banking and tax reforms started to wane.

Airline shares were trading lower amid plans in the UK to introduce security measures banning large electronic devices. Low-cost carrier EasyJet was off 24 pence at 985 pence while British Airways and Aer Lingus-owner International Consolidated Airlines Group (IAG) dropped 15.5 pence to 545 pence.

Away from the top tier, housebuilder Redrow jumped more than 1 per cent, or 7.2 pence, to 500.5 pence after notching up a 22 per cent rise in profits this year.


Dutch lender ING Groep was among the biggest fallers in Europe on Wednesday, down 4 per cent after disclosing a criminal investigation which could result in significant fines.

Raiffeisen Bank also dropped 5.6 per cent after Immigon completed the sale of 9.92 million shares in the Austrian bank.

The biggest individual faller however was Gemalto, which plunged 17 per cent, its second biggest one-day loss on record. The Dutch digital security services firm plummeted after cutting its profit forecasts, blaming a weak US payments business.

Wall Street

The S&P and the Nasdaq reversed course to climb higher in afternoon trading on Wednesday, as investors sought bargains a day after the major indexes posted their biggest one-day loss since before the election.

Apple was up about 1 per cent and provided the biggest boost to the three major indexes. However, the Dow was lower, weighed down by a 6.3 per cent fall in Nike after the world's largest footwear maker missed quarterly revenue estimates.

The financial sector, which suffered its worst daily drop since June on Tuesday, was down 0.22 per cent. Bank of America and Wells Fargo were down about 0.7 per cent.

Additional reporting: agencies

Charlie Taylor

Charlie Taylor

Charlie Taylor is a former Irish Times business journalist