European shares up on bank gains after ECB executive’s comments

Benoît Cœuré says central bank aware is aware of concerns over ultra-low rates

European shares finished higher yesterday after a volatile day of trading, with banks making their fifth straight day of gains after previously suffering heavy losses.

Bank stocks, the worst performers so far this year, rose 3.4 per cent after European Central Bank executive board member Benoît Cœuré said the central bank was aware of concerns that ultra-low rates may put pressure on bank margins.

Some investors viewed the remarks as a sign the ECB, which holds a policy meeting next week, could put pro-bank measures in place. DUBLIN The Iseq closed up 0.3 per cent, just 16 points ahead on the previous session, as its biggest stocks posted modest gains. Building materials group CRH rose 0.4 per cent to €24.07, while Ryanair added 0.14 per cent to finish at €14.23. CRH reports its financial results for 2015 today.

Paper and packaging group Smurfit Kappa rose 1.5 per cent to €22.21, while Independent News & Media added to its Tuesday gains, closing up 2.4 per cent at 17 cent.


Hotel company Dalata fell 0.6 per cent to €4.69, despite announcing 2015 results that were ahead of forecasts and giving an upbeat outlook on the Irish hotel market.

Food group Kerry, insulation-maker Kingspan and bookmaker Paddy Power Betfair were also among the fallers. LONDON UK stocks were little changed, after climbing to their highest level this year. The FTSE 100 of blue-chip stocks lost less than 0.1 per cent at the close in London, having earlier dropped as much as 0.9 per cent, which in turn wiped out an earlier advance of 0.7 per cent.

Pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline and consumer household groups Reckitt Benckiser and Unilever slid at least 1.3 per cent and were the biggest drags on the benchmark.

Television and media group ITV, the new owner of the UTV and UTV Ireland channels, fell 3.5 per cent, as the company's cautious outlook about its advertising revenue offset more positive factors such as higher earnings and a special dividend payout.

Electronics retailer Darty jumped 12 per cent after Steinhoff International Holdings made an unsolicited bid for the company. Engineering and project management services company Amec Foster Wheeler rallied 9.8 per cent after arranging for a new debt facility. EUROPE The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index ended up 0.7 per cent, helped late in the session by oil prices reversing initial losses which were triggered by a huge build in US crude stockpiles. In Germany, the Dax finished up 0.6 per cent, while the French Cac 40 index added 0.4 per cent at the close.

In the financial sector, Credit Suisse, Santander and UniCredit were all up by between 4.2 per cent and 5.5 per cent.

Shares of miners rose 3.7 per cent as metal prices rallied on signs of a recovery in the Chinese property market following Beijing’s announcement this week it would cut bank reserve requirements and make other structural reforms.

Luxottica fell 4.7 per cent, topping losers on the FTSEurofirst, after the world's biggest eyewear maker trimmed its outlook and said it would not pay a special dividend. US Wall Street opened lower, but recovered later. By midday in New York, the S&P 500 was not far from an eight-week high it hit on Tuesday.

The latest piece of better- than-expected data came from US private sector employers, with the addition of 214,000 jobs in February beating economists’ expectations. That added to strong manufacturing and construction spending data earlier this week.

US Treasury yields rose as the job market data reinforced the view that the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates later this year.

Crude oil prices rose to hit a two-month high above $35 per barrel.– (Additional reporting: Bloomberg / Reuters)