European stocks decline as Mideast bombing fuels move on oil prices
Dublin market remain quiet but Dragon Oil benefits from industry-wide bounce
Supermarket chain Sainsbury rose after deciding to axe 800 store jobs in a drive to cut costs. Photographer: Matthew Lloyd/Bloomberg
European stocks declined yesterday as data showed euro zone output expanded at a slower pace in April and Ericsson-led technology shares lowered. At the same time, oil prices climbed to their highest levels of the year as tensions in the Middle East sparked supply concerns, while the boost from energy-related stocks helped US equities shrug off a batch of soft economic data.
Brent crude touched a high of $65.13, its highest since December, and was last up 3.6 per cent at $64.97 a barrel, while US crude jumped 3.1 per cent to $57.92 after Saudi Arabia and its allies continued a bombing blitz in Yemen that raised concerns about the security of Middle East oil supplies.
The Irish market dipped by 0.15 per cent to close at 6,264, performing slightly better than other European bourses.
Dragon Oil closed nearly 1 per cent up at €9.09 on the back of an industry-wide surge in oil-related stocks.
Kerry and Aryzta partially reversed some of the losses in the previous session, climbing 0.8 per cent to €67.38 and 2.2 per cent to €61.50
With the IAG’s bid attempt still ongoing, Aer Lingus tread water, unchanged at €2.42. Ryanair dropped 11 cents to close at €11.34. Bank of Ireland remained flat for a second day at 35 cents, while Iseq heavyweight CRH fell again, closing 0.7 per cent down at €25.81.
Britain’s top equity index pushed higher yesterday, boosted by a bump-up for utilities stocks two weeks before a general election. Mining stocks also outperformed.
United Utilities rose 1.1 per cent, SSE rose 1.4 per cent and National Grid rose 0.6 per cent after Citigroup said the sector would be favoured as a protection against any market volatility caused by the election.
Britain’s benchmark FTSE 100 has been relatively steady, closing up 0.4 per cent at 7,053.67 points, near a record high of 7,119.35 on April 16th.
Shares in sportswear retailer Sports Direct and electrical goods group Dixons Carphone weakened after an unexpected fall in UK retail sales data.
WPP also fell. Sainsbury rose after deciding to axe 800 store jobs to cut costs.
The Stoxx Europe 600 Index lost 0.4 per cent to 407.18 at the close of trading, having earlier tumbled as much as 1 per cent and gained 0.4 per cent. Germany’s Dax Index slid 1.2 per cent, among the worst in western European markets, and France’s CAC 40 index dropped 0.6 per cent as similar data from those countries also disappointed.
A gauge of technology stocks fell the most among 19 industry groups, with Ericsson sliding 10 per cent. On Wednesday, the index had closed at its highest level since 2002.
Elsewhere Bilfinger fell 18 per cent, the most since 1999, after lowering its annual profit forecast. Outokumpu fell 5.7 per cent after the stainless-steel maker cut its outlook on full-year volumes at its Coils Americas unit. Michelin rose 6.5 per cent. Pernod Ricard rose 2.4 per cent. Logitech International rose 5.4 per cent.
Wall Street stocks were little changed in late morning trading as soft US, European and Chinese data, alongside disappointing earnings forecasts, were offset by gains in energy stocks as oil futures rose.
A slight but unexpected rise in US applications for unemployment insurance also pressured indexes lower. Growth in US manufacturing dipped more than expected in April.
Early on, the Dow Jones industrial average was down 0.04 per cent at 18,030.5, the S&P 500 was down 0.01 per cent at 2,107.73, and the Nasdaq Composite was down 0.03 per cent at 5,033.85.
PepsiCo, Procter & Gamble and 3M all blamed the strong dollar for missing estimates or cutting forecasts. P&G fell 2 per cent to $81.43, 3M fell 3.3 per cent to $159.11 and Pepsi fell 1.7 per cent to $95.55. Facebook fell 0.6 per cent to $84.07. General Motors shares dropped 3.9 per cent to $35.70.