European shares up as investors bet on economic uplift in 2020

Dublin buoyed by strong performances from its internationally-focused heavy hitters such as Kingspan and CRH

European shares rose on Friday, their first positive session of the week, as better-than-expected business activity data from the bloc pointed to a likely recovery in 2020.However, US stocks fell amid renewed concerns over the spreading of a coronavirus outbreak from China.


The Iseq kept pace with many of its peers, and finished the session up close to 1 per cent.

The index was buoyed by strong performances from its internationally-focused heavy hitters. Insulation group Kingspan was up 2.8 per cent to €57.50. CRH, the building materials giant, was up 2.1 per cent to €34.99. It was rumoured in the Australian press this week to be interested in buying local group Boral.


Kerry Group rose 0.6 per cent to €117.80, while the 0.5 per cent rise to €32.60 for packaging business Smurfit Kappa rounded off the roster of Irish heavy hitters in the black on Friday.

Cairn Homes fell more than 2.5 per cent to €1.29 despite securing planning permission for a major development in Co Wicklow.


The FTSE 100 ended a four-day losing streak to rise 1 per cent. A standout loser across the board was Finablr, which plummeted 27 per cent to a fresh life low after it disclosed its majority owner had pledged over half the company's stock as security against certain debts it incurred.

Car retailer Auto Trader led the FTSE 100 leaderboard, rising 3.4 per cent to 595.6 pence after Morgan Stanley lifted the price target to 650 pence from 560 pence.

Lagging the blue-chips was Just Eat, which gave up 2 per cent after Britain's competition watchdog said it would investigate Takeaway's takeover of the food delivery company.

UAE-focused NMC Health lost 4.1 per cent after Emirates NBD Bank sold a stake just weeks after the healthcare company was criticised by US short-seller Muddy Waters.

Marston's fell 5.3 per cent as investors overlooked a growth in sales over the two-week Christmas holiday period and focused on the pub operator's warning of extra costs due to a higher-than-expected rise in minimum wages.


The pan-European STOXX 600 climbed 0.9 per cent, having crossed a record high earlier in the day. The index had marked four straight sessions of declines amid widespread concerns over a new virus causing economic disruptions in China, one of the bloc’s biggest trading partners.

Utilities were among the best performing sub-indexes, with German renewables player RWE leading gains. The utility firm's chief executive, Rolf Martin Schmitz, flagged his possible exit next year.

Among individual stocks, Bayer was among the biggest boosts to the German Dax after a report on a possible out-of-court settlement of a US jury trial over allegations that its weed killer Roundup causes cancer.

Swedish telecoms equipment group Ericsson was on track for its worst day in about six months after it reported a smaller-than-expected rise in fourth-quarter core earnings.

Nokian Tyres hit a more than four-year low as the Finnish tyre-maker forecast its 2020 sales and operating result to significantly decline from a year earlier due to weak performance in its Russia operations.

Shares of French pharma company Ipsen tumbled to the bottom of the Stoxx 600 after it paused dosing in rare bone diseases drug Palovarotene.


Intel's shares jumped 8.9 per cent to hit a 19-year high after it forecast better-than-expected 2020 earnings, joining many of its peers to signal a recovery in chip demand.

Airlines and travel stocks fell again, with United Airlines Holdings and American Airlines Group shedding about 4 per cent.

American Express rose 2.4 per cent after reporting a better-than-expected quarterly profit as more people used its credit cards for shopping and paying bills.

However, financial stocks were hit by declines in shares of big banks, including JPMorgan and Bank of America, which fell more than 1.5 per cent, tracking a drop in US treasury yields. – (Additional reporting: Reuters)

Mark Paul

Mark Paul

Mark Paul is London Correspondent for The Irish Times