European stocks end higher but log worst week in six months

Dublin outdoes other indices with insulation specialist Kingspan the star performer

European shares edged higher on Friday but the benchmark Stoxx 600 still marked its worst week since February on signs of slowing economic growth and rising Covid-19 cases.


The Irish market outperformed other European indices on Friday, closing up 0.8 per cent at 8661.38.

Insulation specialist Kingspan was the star performer, with its shares gaining on strong first-half results. The company on Friday said sales rose 41 per cent to €1.9 billion while profits jumped 64 per cent to €329 million in the period January-June period. Shares in the company rose more than 4 per at one stage but closed up 2.4 per cent.

Banks were positive with Bank of Ireland and AIB up 1.2 per cent and 1.6 per cent higher respectively.


Iseq heavyweights CRH and Flutter also rose, with the construction-focused company gaining 0.5 per cent while the Paddy Power owner was up 0.4 per cent.

Other movers on the day included Dalata, down 2.4 per cent, and Kerry, which rose 1 per cent.


The Ftse 100 ended higher on Friday, helped by gains in consumer staple stocks and financials, while a clutch of corporate updates helped investors look past a surprise drop in retail sales.

After falling 0.4 per cent in early trade, the blue-chip index rebounded to end 0.4 per cent higher, but still recorded its worst week since February on concerns over slowing economic growth.

Dollar-earning consumer staple stocks, including Unilever, British American Tobacco and Imperial Brands, gained 0.6-2.5 per cent on a weaker pound.

Retail stocks were the top gainers, primarily led by strong gains in Marks & Spencer on robust earnings and Morrisons after it accepted a takeover deal.

The domestically focused mid-cap index rose 0.6 per cent, but snapped its four-week winning streak.

Marks & Spencer jumped 14.1 per cent to the top of the mid-cap index after saying it expected its annual profit to be above forecasts.

Supermarket chain Morrisons rose 4.2 per cent after it agreed to a takeover offer from US private equity group Clayton, Dubilier & Rice.

Drug maker AstraZeneca fell 0.1 per cent after it said its newly acquired Alexion division was halting a late-stage trial of its treatment for a rare neurological disorder. However, positive test results from its antibody therapy to prevent Covid-19 helped to limit losses.


The pan-European Stoxx 600 index was up 0.3 per cent, with the retail sector gaining 1.2 per cent.

Germany’s Dax was up 0.3 per cent. Frankfurt shares recovered from a fall earlier in the session after data showed a bigger-than-expected jump in producer prices in July.

Swedish real estate web portal Hemnet surged 27.8 per cent on an upbeat quarterly report.


The Nasdaq led gains among Wall Street indexes on Friday, driven by strength in tech stocks, although concerns over a slowing economic recovery and the possible tapering of stimulus saw the Dow and the S&P 500 set for their worst week since mid-June.

Amazon, Apple, Google-owner Alphabet, Nvidia, Microsoft and Tesla, which had led Wall Street's record rally from pandemic lows last year, gained 0.3-1 per cent.

Travel-related stocks including cruise liners, dropped as much as 0.6 per cent, as Asian countries announced more drastic curbs and longer lockdowns for citizens to fight a surge in infections caused by the highly infectious Delta variant of coronavirus.

For the week, the blue-chip Dow and the benchmark S&P 500 are down about 1.5 per cent and 1 per cent respectively, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq has fallen 1.3 per cent, its worst since mid-July.

Deere fell 1.7 per cent even after it beat Wall Street estimates for third-quarter revenue and lifted its full-year earnings forecast on strong demand for farm and construction equipment.

Charlie Taylor

Charlie Taylor

Charlie Taylor is a former Irish Times business journalist