European stocks edged higher towards the end of Tuesday’s session as better-than-expected data from the other side of the Atlantic helped the market, following a two-day slide.
The Stoxx Europe 600 Index added less than 0.1 per cent at the close, wiping out a drop of as much as 0.7 per cent after data showed American consumer confidence in September rose to its highest since 2007, while the services industry expanded more than estimated.
While the Iseq index of Irish shares rallied off its lows late in the session, it ended up down 0.4 per cent to 5,990.69, marking its first close below the key psychological 6,000-point level since the middle of August.
Smurfit Kappa stood out as a weak spot among large caps, falling 2.1 per cent to €19.97 after analysts at Jefferies downgraded their view on the stock to hold from buy, amid rising costs for recycled containerboard, used to make cardboard boxes, and plans among rivals in Europe to add more capacity in the coming years.
Grafton Group's shares fell by 2.1 per cent in London as rival plumbing and heating supplier Wolseley unveiled results that were behind expectations and warned that market conditions for its business were tough.
Elsewhere in the building materials sector, Kingspan lost 1.6 per cent to €23.40.
Banking stocks were mixed, with Bank of Ireland falling 1.7 per cent to 17.3 cents as followers of the sector remained concerned about the financial health of Deutsche Bank. However, Permanent TSB edged 0.5 per cent higher to €1.91, with sources saying the lender managed to sell about €500 million of residential mortgage-backed securities this week.
Britain’s top shares index hovered near one-week lows on Tuesday, weighed down by a drop in banking stocks such as Standard Chartered and weaker energy company stock prices.
The blue-chip FTSE 100 index was down 0.2 per cent at 6,807.67 points at its close.
The FTSE gave up gains made earlier in the session following a rebound in world stock markets after US Democrat Hillary Clinton, favoured by many business leaders and investors, was seen to have won the first US presidential election TV debate against Republican rival Donald Trump.
Standard Chartered was the top faller, down 2.5 per cent, following a media report that the bank faced an investigation by the US Department of Justice into whether StanChart failed to stop alleged misconduct at MAXpower Group, an Indonesian power plant builder in which the bank’s private equity unit is a minority shareholder. Standard Chartered said that it had referred the allegations to the appropriate authorities.
Royal Bank of Scotland and Barclays fell 1.6 per cent and 1.3 per cent respectively.
Shares in oil major Royal Dutch Shell dropped 2.2 per cent, with BP also slipping 0.9 per cent, hit by weaker oil prices.
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OECD) and other oil producers, led by Russia, are meeting on the sidelines of the International Energy Forum.
Travel and leisure stocks were among the top risers, with cruise operator Carnival gaining 4.8 per cent after a target price upgrade from Natixis.
TUI rose 1.5 per cent after a TUI executive said August trading was in line with expectations and bookings from Britain did not fall as much as expected after the vote to leave the European Union.
As September draws to a close, European stocks are heading for their first monthly decline in three. Last week’s bullishness prompted by central-bank updates wasn’t enough to erase an earlier rout that shattered the summer’s calm.
Among shares active on corporate news, Volkswagen dropped 2.2 per cent on reports the US Justice Department is assessing how big a penalty it can extract from the company over emissions-cheating without putting it out of business. Porsche, which owns the majority of VW shares, slid 2 per cent.
Anheuser-Busch InBev gained 1 per cent on reports that most SABMiller investors voting by proxy support the Belgian brewer's takeover offer, before shareholders meet on Wednesday.
US stocks advanced following the first presidential debate, as consumer confidence data boosted optimism on the economy, overshadowing a selloff in crude oil that dragged energy shares lower.
Equities extended gains in early afternoon trading on Wall Street, with Amazon. com rising 1.9 per cent to a record, and Microsoft up 1.6 per cent to pace the rally. Google parent Alphabet and Facebook rose at least 1.1 per cent.
Travel-related companies were the top performers among consumer and industrial shares, with TripAdvisor jumping the most since June, while a group of airlines climbed towards a two-week high.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 0.8 per cent, while the Nasdaq Composite Index increased 0.8 per cent.
– Additional reporting: Bloomberg, Reuters