European shares pause near record highs

Mixed performance from the banks in Dublin as Iseq closes flat

European shares hovered just below all-time highs on Tuesday, little changed by US inflation data that suggested the Federal Reserve’s accommodative policy stance would remain intact.


Stocks may have been surging elsewhere but in Dublin it was a relatively quiet day with the Iseq closing virtually unchanged at 8044.87.

It was a mixed performance from banks, with AIB up 1 per cent to €2.29 and Bank of Ireland down 0.85 per cent to €4.22.

Property stocks were lower, with Cairn falling 0.7 per cent to €1.09 and Glenveagh 0.6 per cent lower at 0.91.


Hotels group Dalata continued its good run, rising 1 per cent to €4.41.

Other movers in Dublin included Ryanair, down 0.9 per cent to €15.83, and Irish Continental up 1 per cent to €4.64.


British mid-caps ended higher on Tuesday and hovered near record levels as data showed the country's economy grew in February and Babcock International surged on its proposed restructuring plans.

Shares of the British engineer surged 32 per cent to the top of FTSE 250 index after the company unveiled a plan that included divesting certain businesses. JP Morgan upgraded the stock to “overweight”.

The domestically-focussed mid-cap index ended 0.5 per cent higher as Britain’s economy grew by a smaller-than-expected 0.4 per cent in February from January.

The blue-chip index was subdued, with Just Eat Takeaway being the top gainer as its orders jumped by 79 per cent in the first quarter. However, weakness in financial and energy stocks weighed on the index.

Among other stocks Deliveroo gained 5.7 per cent after the food delivery group and supermarket Sainsbury's expanded a grocery delivery trial to around 100 stores across Britain under a new two-year contract.

Sportswear retailer JD Sports rose 3 per cent after it forecast higher profit in 2022, and reported a rise in annual profit as some stores reopened this week and online sales continued to surge.


The pan-European STOXX 600 closed up 0.1 per cent and the export-heavy German stock index also rose that much after data showed China’s exports grew at a robust pace in March and import growth surged to its highest in four years.

Luxury and other consumer stocks led gains on the STOXX 600, followed by technology stocks.

The benchmark STOXX 600 has surged to record highs this month – after coming under pressure in March from rising bond yields – as central banks globally maintained an accommodative monetary stance despite fears of a jump in inflation.

Swedish IT solutions provider Dustin surged 17.4 per cent after it said it would buy Centralpoint, a seller of hardware and software in the Benelux region, for €425 million.


The S&P 500 hit a record high and the Nasdaq jumped as investors flocked to technology-related stocks after the US pause in the rollout of Johnson & Johnson's Covid-19 vaccine sparked fears of a delay in a broader economic rebound.

The drugmaker’s shares fell 2.7 per cent to a one-month low as calls for pausing the use of its vaccine after six women developed rare blood clots dealt a fresh setback to efforts to tackle the pandemic.

The technology and consumer discretionary sectors, which house high-flying technology names that flourished during coronavirus-induced lockdowns last year, rose 0.6 per cent and 0.4 per cent, respectively. Apple, Microsoft and Amazon gained between 0.4 per cent and 1.3 per cent.

Riot Blockchain jumped 7.6 per cent and Marathon Digital Holdings added 5.7 per cent as bitcoin prices soared 5 per cent, a day ahead of listing of Coinbase, the largest US cryptocurrency exchange. – Additional reporting: Reuters

Charlie Taylor

Charlie Taylor

Charlie Taylor is a former Irish Times business journalist