European stocks end year up 22% with Kingspan hitting a 52-week high

Thin volumes in Dublin, which only opened for a half-day with Iseq 0.5% lower

European shares inched lower on Friday amid surging Covid-19 infections around the world and on worries over the pace of global economic recovery from the pandemic. However, the close locked in a year of strong gains for the markets.

Volumes were thin, with many traders away and most major European bourses closed, with the exceptions of London and Paris which saw shortened trading sessions.


Dublin was one of the few markets to open on Friday but only for a half-day. The Iseq index closed down 0.5 per cent on thin volumes.

Insulation maker Kingspan ended the year well, hitting a 52-week high of €106 before closing down 0.5 per cent at €105.


Uniphar was another strong performer, closing up 1 per cent to €5. The company's share price has risen from €1.05 at the time of its initial public offering in July 2019.

Permanent TSB was the biggest mover of the day, jumping nearly 5 per cent to €1.60, albeit in light trading. Elsewhere among the financials, Bank of Ireland closed down 1.3 per cent on €4.98 while AIB was flat at €2.14.

Other movers in Dublin on the final day of 2021 included CRH , down nearly 1 per cent to €46.52, Glanbia, which was 1.3 per cent lower at €12.30 and housebuilder Glenveagh, which climbed 1.15 per cent to €1.23.


The FTSE 100 ended 2021 with its best annual performance in five years on the back of gains in commodity-linked and industrial stocks, although the index fell in Friday’s holiday-thinned trading.

The index declined 0.3 per cent, hit by concerns around surging Covid-19 cases as the United Kingdom reported a record rise in daily infections.

British blue-chip shares gained 14.3 per cent in 2021 but underperformed their European and US peers, which have scaled multiple record highs.

Mining and industrial stocks were among the top boosters to the FTSE 100 in 2021, with miner and trader Glencore and construction supplier Ferguson both rising more than 50 per cent.

Energy stocks posted their best year since 2016, ending a three-year slump as the global economic recovery and producer restraint sparked a jump in crude oil prices.

The mid-cap FTSE 250 index declined 0.3 per cent on Friday due to a drop in consumer discretionary stocks such as Watches of Switzerland Group, but was on track for its seventh consecutive quarter of gains.


The pan-European Stoxx 600 fell 0.1 per cent, with retail stocks leading losses. The benchmark index added 1.3 per cent this week.

The European benchmark ended the year 22 per cent higher, its second best year since 2009, with all of the major subsectors making yearly gains. Banks and tech stocks have rallied the most this year, adding 34 per cent each, while pandemic-battered travel stocks underperformed, eking out gains of 4 per cent.

Germany, Spain and Italy were among European bourses closed for the New Year’s Eve holiday


Wall Street’s main indices eased in choppy trading early on Friday, but were heading for their best three-year run since 1999, driven by massive stimulus, vaccine rollouts, and strong retail participation. Ten of 11 major S&P sectors gained amid quiet trading, with energy, the best performing sector of 2021, leading the charge higher.

The benchmark S&P 500 was set to exit the year 27 per cent higher, with energy sector’s 47.4 per cent jump outperforming all other sector indices. Real estate and technology sectors, up 44 per cent and 34 per cent respectively over the past year, were the next best performers.

The blue-chip Dow was set to rise 19 per cent, while the tech-laden Nasdaq was on pace to climb 22 per cent.

Among individual companies, Xeris Biopharma jumped 19.3 per cent after the company's drug Recorlev received an approval for treating adult patients with Cushing's syndrome, a rare hormonal disorder. – Additional reporting: Reuters

Charlie Taylor

Charlie Taylor

Charlie Taylor is a former Irish Times business journalist