European shares rise as banks and mining stocks advance

Brexit concerns have impact on London property stocks as markets fear slowdown

European equities edged up, as banks and mining stocks advanced. Italian lenders, among the biggest decliners last week, led gains in the Stoxx Europe 600 Index, but in London, FTSE-listed housebuilding stocks bore the brunt of fears that the UK might vote to leave the European Union in June.

Oil rose to a four-month high in London ahead of a meeting in Doha this month where producers will discuss freezing output. On Wall Street, stocks rose in early trading, boosted by rising commodity prices and gains for Apple.


The Iseq finished flat on a day marked by low trading volumes and an absence of news.


Ryanair was a lacklustre performer, dropping 0.5 per cent to €13.19 as it continues its recent pattern of dropping back on climbs in oil prices.

Paddy Power Betfair fell 1.4 per cent to €116.85, while cement maker CRH nudged up 0.9 per cent to €25.29.

Paper and packaging group Smurfit Kappa enjoyed better fortunes, continuing its trend of the last few days, with stock adding 1.5 per cent to €23.58.


The FTSE 100 fell, underperforming gains elsewhere in Europe, as a drop in housebuilding stocks took the shine off a rise in banking and mining stocks. The blue-chip FTSE 100 index closed 0.1 per cent lower.

Banks such as Barclays rose on the back of similar gains at their European peers, after Italian bank stocks surged on expectations that the Rome government would soon thrash out a plan to set up a state-backed fund to buy bad loans and plug capital shortfalls.

Mining stocks such as Anglo American and Glencore rose, boosted by data showing deflationary pressures had eased in China, which is the world’s biggest consumer of metals.

However, shares in housebuilders such as Berkeley Group, Barratt Developments, Taylor Wimpey and Persimmon all fell. Traders said the housebuilding and property sector was being hit by concerns about UK economic growth and a slowdown in the London prime property market, which could be exacerbated if Britain voted for Brexit.

Traders also said the FTSE was failing to get above the 200-day moving average level – a technical point showing a stalling in its recent rally.


The Stoxx 600 climbed 0.3 per cent at the close of trading. In Germany, the Dax rose 0.6 per cent, while France’s Cac 40 managed a 0.2 per cent gain.

Italy's FTSE MIB Index climbed 1.3 per cent as its lenders jumped. Italian banks Banco Popolare and UBI Banca surged at least 7 per cent.

Luxembourg-based steel company ArcelorMittal followed metal prices higher.

Among stocks active on corporate news, Norwegian multinational Telenor gained 3.2 per cent after a report suggested it is looking to exit its telecommunications business in India. Aegon rose 3 per cent after the Dutch insurance company agreed to sell two-thirds of its UK annuity portfolio to Rothesay Life.


Wall Street gains were driven by materials stocks as a weaker dollar boosted commodities, and investors turned their focus to the earnings season.

Alcoa is set to post first-quarter results after the market closes. The company's shares rose 3.9 per cent to $9.73 in early trading.

Tech stocks also rose, with Apple climbing 1.2 per cent to give the biggest boost to all three major indexes. Seagate rose 6.3 per cent to $35.34 and Western Digital was up 4 per cent at $44.82, while National Oilwell Varco dropped 5.6 per cent to $27.48 after the oilfield equipment maker said it would cut its quarterly dividend.

US president Barack Obama was due to meet Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen to discuss the economy. Big bank earnings will also be closely watched by the market through the week, starting with JPMorgan Chase tomorrow.

(Additional reporting: Reuters/Bloomberg.)