European markets were mostly flat on Wednesday following losses the day before, with trading muted and the mood among investors cautious rather than panicky as they weighed up hiccups in the progress towards a Covid-19 vaccine, an impasse on the prospects of economic stimulus and the likelihood of new lockdowns.
Meanwhile, sterling rose on reports that Brexit trade talks between the UK and the EU would extend beyond this week.
The Iseq closed up 0.2 per cent in line with the modest swings in either direction across European markets. After falling in Tuesday's session, the banks rallied, with AIB up 2 per cent at just under 96 cent and Bank of Ireland surging 3.1 per cent to €1.88. The Dublin index was also supported by a 1.7 per cent gain for packaging giant Smurfit Kappa, which closed at €35.20, as well as a 0.3 per cent nudge upwards for one of its biggest stocks, Ryanair, which finished the day at €12.32.
Glenveagh Properties rose 4.5 per cent to 74 cent, while real estate investment trust stock Hibernia Reit was up 1.3 per cent at €1.08. Food group Kerry also had a good day, advancing 0.8 per cent to €112.30, while Glanbia rose 0.5 per cent to €8.75.
However, CRH was among the fallers, with the building materials group slipping 0.9 per cent to €32.72.
Gains for sterling meant the exporter-heavy FTSE 100 index ended in the red for the third consecutive day, declining 0.6 per cent and underperforming the trend across Europe. The more domestically focused FTSE 250 edged 0.3 per cent higher.
Food delivery company Just Eat Takeaway jumped 5 per cent on its London listing after it said orders jumped by 46 per cent in the third quarter to 151 million.
Asos fell 10.3 per cent after the online fashion retailer presented investors with a cautious outlook despite delivering higher profits, citing the impact of unemployment on its young customers.
Belfast-based software firm Kainos saw shares surge 31 per cent after it said it expects annual results to beat market consensus following a "very strong" start to the financial year.
But Cineworld fell 4.4 per cent after investors digested an update from rival AMC that warned the Odeon owner could run out of cash by the end of the year if audiences do not return to cinemas.
The pan-European Stoxx 600 was unchanged in early trading, but the benchmark index eventually closed down 0.1 per cent.
Markets in Frankfurt and Paris were either side of flat, with the German Dax rising almost 0.1 per cent and the French Cac 40 slipping 0.1 per cent. Spanish and Italian stocks were both in positive territory.
Italy's Atlantia jumped 9.2 per cent to the top of the Stoxx 600 after entering exclusive talks until with state lender Cassa Despositi e Prestiti over the sale of the group's motorway assets.
Wall Street stocks dropped after treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin downplayed the chances of striking a stimulus deal before the presidential election. Most major groups in the S&P 500 retreated, led by retailers and banks.
Wells Fargo tumbled more than 5 per cent after posting a profit slump and warning that net interest income could "get a little bit softer" in 2021. Bank of America slid amid an increase in trading revenue that was just a fraction of its competitors' gains, while Goldman Sachs outperformed after posting a surge in fixed-income revenue that pushed earnings per share to a record.
Energy shares joined a rally in oil, with Concho Resources soaring 12 per cent on a news report that ConocoPhillips is in talks to acquire the company.
– Additional reporting: Bloomberg/Reuters