European shares rise on back of robust US data

Iseq retreats slightly on Brexit-sensitive stocks

European shares advanced on Friday, helped late in the session by robust data from the United States, though stocks across the continent ended the week with a slight loss as worries about a trade war and geopolitical tensions kept investors on edge.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 index closed up 0.2 per cent at 377.79 points and lost 0.1 per cent on the week.

US data out on Friday showed that factory production bounced back in February and consumer confidence reached a 14-year high in March, with both measures exceeding economists’ estimates.


However, the Iseq index lost 0.2 per cent to 6,693.94, with Brexit-sensitive stocks were out of sorts, as investors braced themselves ahead of a key European Council meeting next week where a transition deal will be top of the agenda.


Irish Continental Group lost 2.2 per cent to €5.87, while C&C declined by almost 2 per cent to €2.73.

Irish property-related shares were also mainly on offer, with Cairn Homes declining by 4.3 per cent to €1.80, while Green Reit traded down 1.3 per cent to €1.50 and Irish Residential Properties Reit lost 1.1 per cent to €1.41.

Bucking the trend, banks edged higher, even as investors weighed increasing competition in the mortgage market, as KBC Bank Ireland cut home loan rates days after Ulster Bank lowered pricing on some products. AIB advanced 3.1 per cent, while Bank of Ireland gained 1.2 per cent.

Dublin-based Tullow Oil advanced 3.6 per cent on the London Stock Exchange to £1.86 as strong investor demand for a seven-year bond sale from the group prompted it to increase the amount being issued to $800 million from $650 million. The notes were priced on Friday afternoon to carry an interest rate of 7 per cent.


A takeover offer for financial technology company NEX Group sent its shares shooting up by almost a third on Friday, while the FTSE 100 registered a weekly decline in spite of a boost from energy and financials stocks.

The FTSE 100 rose 0.3 per cent, leaving it 0.7 per cent down on the week.

NEX Group rose 31 per cent after saying it received a preliminary takeover offer from US futures and options exchange operator CME.

The FTSE was buoyed by strong financials and energy stocks, but several companies suffered big share price falls after publication of results.

Berkeley Group was the biggest FTSE 100 faller, retreating by 5.2 per cent after the housebuilder said planning constraints meant it could not increase volumes further.

Shares in pubs group JD Wetherspoon finished 6.3 per cent down after the company said it expected lower sales growth and higher costs in the rest of the year.


Germany's DAX index rose 0.4 per cent following a delayed opening, which was the first day of trading for Siemens Healthineers, which gained just over 8 per cent.

Telecoms group Altice rose 3.4 per cent following its results, with the debt-ridden group saying it sees signs of a recovery in the competitive French market.

French oil storage and distribution company Rubis was another top gainer, up 6.6 per cent at a record high after reporting full-year results and upping its dividend.


US stocks broke out of their four-day slump as traders looked past White House turmoil to reports of better-than-expected factory output, which pushed 10-year Treasury yields higher and helped the dollar erase losses.

The S&P 500 Index rose 0.3 per cent in early afternoon trading, led by financial and industrial stocks, while the Nasdaq inched 0.1 per cent higher and the Dow Jones Industrial Average advanced 0.5 per cent.

Retailers Walmart and Home Depot gained after the University of Michigan's preliminary March reading of consumer sentiment index rose more than expected.

Adobe Systems was up after the Photoshop maker topped analysts' profit and revenue estimates for the seventh straight quarter.

However, Tiffany & Co's shares tumbled after the jeweller's latest set of quarterly same-stores sales fell short of expectations and the company said it was investing heavily to turn around its business. – Additional reporting: Bloomberg, Reuters

Joe Brennan

Joe Brennan

Joe Brennan is Markets Correspondent of The Irish Times