European shares inch higher on strong commodity shares

Financial stocks in retreat as Kerry the star performer after posting strong results

European markets made cautious gains on Wednesday, pushed higher by commodity-heavy stocks with Russia-Ukraine tensions in focus, while Swedish telecom firm Ericsson slumped after investigations showed misconduct.

DUBLIN

It was a quiet day in Dublin with the Iseq closing down 0.3 per cent lower at 8,371.66 on low volumes.

Financial stocks were in retreat with Bank of Ireland down 3.1 per cent to €6.44 and AIB 2.9 per cent lower at €2.64.

Other stocks that fared badly included Ryanair, down 2.3 per cent to €17.47, Uniphar, down 2.4 per cent at €3.57, and hotels group Dalata, which was 0.5 per cent lower at €3.94.

Kerry, which reported strong annual results earlier in the day, was one of the bright stars on Wednesday, closing up 1.3 per cent at €108.95.

LONDON

London's FTSE 100 inched lower on Wednesday as gains in commodity stocks were offset by losses in retailers following a spike in January inflation, while Indivior jumped on its plans for a US listing.

The blue-chip FTSE 100 index ended 0.1 per cent lower with consumer staples leading losses, while the benchmark midcap index fell 0.1 per cent.

The pound was higher on Wednesday weighing on dollar earning companies with Diageo, Unilever, British American Tobacco, Reckitt Benckiser all down 0.3 per cent and 2 per cent.

Oil majors Shell and BP both gained nearly 2 per cent as they tracked stronger crude oil prices.

Financials fell 1.2 per cent, tracking a fall in British two-year government bond yields, as investors pared back their expectations for a Bank of England interest rate rises over the next three months.

Indivior rose 14 per cent, recording its best session in nearly one and half year, after the opioid addiction treatment maker said it was exploring a secondary listing in the United States, its biggest market, following a rise in annual sales.

EUROPE

The Stoxx 600 index ended 0.1 per cent higher with oil firms and miners leading gains, marginally adding to the 1.4 per cent jump on Tuesday when Moscow indicated it was returning some troops surrounding Ukraine.

Germany’s Dax and France’s CAC 40 dropped between 0.1 per cent and 0.3 per cent.

Shares of Ericsson fell 14.2 per cent to be the top Stoxx 600 loser after the Swedish telecom gear maker disclosed results of an internal investigation that detailed suspect payments and misconduct in Iraq.

Heineken gained 1.8 per cent after reporting stronger than expected earnings in 2021, but it cast doubt on its mid-term profit margin target due to the uncertain impact of spiralling inflation on beer consumption.

WALL STREET

US stocks fell in early trading on Wednesday, with the tech-heavy Nasdaq leading losses after stronger than expected retail sales data gave the Federal Reserve more ammunition to tighten policy, while geopolitical tensions over Russia and Ukraine added to caution.

Eight of the 11 major S&P sectors fell, with technology and communication services leading the declines. The energy index jumped 2 per cent, tracking crude prices.

ViacomCBS shares tumbled 20.3 per cent after the media conglomerate missed profit forecasts, while announcing a change in its name to Paramount and unveiling a broad range of programming.

Shares of big banks also fell, with Goldman Sachs down 1.3 per cent, while those of major growth names Apple, Google-owner Alphabet, Amazon, Microsoft, Meta Platforms and Tesla dropped between 0.8 per cent and 2.7 per cent after rallying strongly on Tuesday.

Waning benefits from stay-at-home demand saw Canadian e-commerce firm Shopify slump 16.8 per cent after it forecast a slowing pace in first-half revenue growth, while Roblox tumbled 24 per cent after the gaming platform missed analysts' expectations for quarterly bookings.

Airbnb, meanwhile, rose 2.7 per cent after the short-term home rental company forecast better than expected first-quarter revenue on strong travel demand and longer stays. – Additional reporting: Reuters