European shares touch all-time peak

Shares in Irish builder Glenveagh rise 4 per cent on back of positive sentiment for builders

European shares clocked a record closing high on Friday after European Union trade commissioner Phil Hogan struck a positive tone on talks with Washington and on optimism over signs of resilience in China's economy.

The pan- European Stoxx 600 index rose as much as 1 per cent to a record high of 424.90, marking its best week since December 20th. Mr Hogan said on Thursday he had a good exchange of views with US trade representative Robert Lighthizer in Washington, underscoring the desire of Brussels to negotiate solutions for several open trade disputes between the United States and the EU.

The meeting is a step forward in addressing long-standing issues such as a French digital tax and aircraft subsidies.

It also added to investor optimism after the United States and China signed an interim trade deal earlier in the week.



Dublin's Iseq closed up 0.5 per cent at 7,194, tracking positive movements elsewhere. Residential builder Glenveagh Properties was the star performer, trading up 4.6 per cent at 91 cents ahead of a capital markets day next week and a more positive outlook for house builders generally.

Cairn Homes also traded up following a positive trading statement earlier in the week. After a difficult few days Bank of Ireland and AIB rose 1.4 per cent and 1.7 per cent to €2.94 and €4.71 respectively amid a more positive move for financials across Europe.

Paddy Power Betfair owner Flutter was down 2.5 per cent to €106.55 on the back of results from rival GVC, the owner of Ladbrokes Coral, in the UK. There was also strong trading in Glanbia shares, which closed up 0.9 per cent at €10.75. Insulation maker Kingspan also turned in a positive session, up 2 per cent to €54.55.


London’s FTSE 100 rose to a more than five-month high on Friday as China’s economic growth met expectations and sterling slid after weak British retail sales raised the prospect of an imminent interest rate cut by the Bank of England.

The exporter-heavy index surged 0.9 per cent, boosted by miners, as China’s 2019 growth came in within Beijing’s target range and signalled an improvement in business sentiment following a de-escalation of the trade war with the US.

Companies that book most of their earnings in US dollars such as AstraZeneca, GlaxoSmithKline and Diageo also rose, helping the blue-chip bourse bag its first weekly gain of the new decade.

British Airways owner IAG climbed 5 per cent to its highest level since September 2018 after it lifted a restriction on non-EU investors' ability to buy its stock.


Stocks in Germany, the EU's largest economy, rose 0.7 per cent, with technology stocks serving as the biggest boost. Germany, which has a largely export-reliant economy, stands to gain substantially from easing trade tensions.

Pharmaceuticals maker Bayer rose 0.7 per cent after a mediator said the company was close to settling more than 75,000 claims related to its Roundup herbicide.

France's EDF jumped 9.8 per cent to the top of Stoxx 600 after the government planned to introduce a "price corridor" for the wholesale nuclear power market that will help the state-controlled utility cover its costs while shielding consumers from price spikes.

New York

US stock index futures hit new all-time highs on Friday, with investor optimism bolstered by an upbeat set of US corporate earnings reports and indications of resilience in the Chinese economy.

Spurring inflows in global stock markets for a fifth day, data showed the world’s second-largest economy ended 2019 on a somewhat firmer note, even as economic growth cooled to its weakest in nearly 30 years in the last year. Optimism over a US-China trade deal signed on Wednesday and recent upbeat data have raised hopes that the global economy may be picking up.

That was set to keep investor spirits intact after a day of many milestones on Wall Street – the S&P 500 crossing the 3,300 mark for the first time and Google parent Alphabet becoming the fourth US company to top a market value of more than $1 trillion.

Alphabet's shares were up 0.6 per cent in premarket trading. – Additional reporting: Reuters

Eoin Burke-Kennedy

Eoin Burke-Kennedy

Eoin Burke-Kennedy is Economics Correspondent of The Irish Times