European stocks fall for fourth day

Markets close: Iseq bucks trend with slight rise

Paper and packaging company Smurfit Kappa edged 0.2 per cent lower to €26.70.

Paper and packaging company Smurfit Kappa edged 0.2 per cent lower to €26.70.

 

European shares edged downwards amid low trading volumes on Wednesday. Investor sentiment was knocked after the US Federal Reserve tempered expectations of an interest rate cut, while there were mixed signals from Washington on the China-US trade dispute.

Dublin

The Iseq rose 0.3 per cent, going against the fractionally negative trend across Europe, as its biggest stocks CRH and Ryanair made gains. The building materials company closed up 0.5 per cent, while the airline added 0.8 per cent. There were mixed fortunes for financial stocks, with AIB climbing 2.3 per cent to €3.53, but Bank of Ireland fell 0.9 per cent to €4.51.

Tullow Oil rose 3.9 per cent on its Dublin listing, and 2.6 per cent in London despite pushing back the date it expects to extract oil from a key asset in Kenya.

Drinks group C&C was a faller, ending the session 0.8 per cent lower at €3.81, while food group Glanbia also declined, finishing down 1.2 per cent at €14.66. Paper and packaging company Smurfit Kappa edged 0.2 per cent lower to €26.70.

Exploration company Providence Resources surged 16 per cent on low volume ahead of its financial results on Friday.

London

The FTSE 100 dipped 0.1 per cent as investor anxiety after the Federal Reserve’s comments on interest rate cuts were compounded by Washington’s ambiguous signals on trade negotiations with China.

The mid-cap FTSE 250 tipped 0.2 per cent lower as the pound was pressured by no-deal Brexit fears.

The Fed comments lifted the dollar from a three-month low, which weighed on gold prices, pushing precious metals miner Fresnillo down 2 per cent.

Oil majors Shell and BP helped the main index outperform its European peers, however, as a decline in US crude stockpiles and US-Iran worries supported prices.

Shares in struggling womenswear retailer Bonmarche plunged after it changed its mind and said it was backing a cut-price £5.7 million bid by billionaire Philip Day, citing further trading woes.

Stagecoach rose after the transport giant said it will not bid for more rail franchises after its operations end in November, sticking to bus and tram routes instead.

Europe

The pan-European Stoxx 600 index fell 0.3 per cent as it extended losses to a fourth day, on course to end a three week gaining streak fuelled by expectations of more monetary stimulus globally and hopes of a revival in trade talks.

Real estate, healthcare and utilities led declines on Wednesday, while banks, automotive and energy stocks, outperformed.

Drugmakers Novartis and Roche fell 2 per cent and 0.7 per cent respectively, and weighed on Swiss shares which declined 0.6 per cent amid a row over stock market equivalence between Switzerland and the European Union.

German shares outperformed, thanks to a near 7 per cent jump in Thyssenkrupp spurred by a report of a possible offer from Kone for the company’s elevator business.

The Dax gained more than 0.1 per cent, while other major European markets finished in the red, with the Cac 40 down 0.25 per cent in Paris.

US

Wall Street stocks rose as gains in chipmaker Micron boosted the technology sector and investors took an increasingly optimistic view on trade talks.

Micron Technology jumped 14.2 per cent, lifting the Philadelphia Semiconductor index 3.5 per cent higher. The company said it had resumed some shipments to Chinese telecoms equipment maker Huawei Technologies and still expected demand for its chips to recover later this year.

Tech stocks, including Apple, Microsoft and Amazon, were the biggest gainers among the 11 major S&P sectors, with a 1.5 per cent rise in early trading.

Capping gains on the S&P 500 was a 1.1 per cent drop in the healthcare sector, weighed by losses in Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer and Merck.

– Additional reporting: Reuters