European stocks fall to three-week low

Trading was ‘light’ on the Dublin market yesterday as it approaches Easter


Major stock markets fell and the euro slumped to a four-month low against the dollar yesterday, hit by a disappointing Italian bond auction and concern about the potential for a wider impact on the euro zone from Cyprus’s bailout. European stocks fell to a three- week low, led by a sell off in banks, as the leader of Italy’s Democratic Party ruled out the possibility that rival politicians will agree on a coalition government.

Trading was “light” on the market yesterday as it approaches Easter while the ISEQ retreated 0.3 per cent. The three strongest performers were Glanbia, Paddy Power and IFG. It was another good day for Paddy Power , with shares rising to above €70, a near all time high. AIB results were out yesterday but no longer have any impact on the market. Bank of Ireland was “generally weaker today,” said one stockbroker. “This can be attributed to European and Italian concerns and the continued fallout from the Cypriot bailout not helping Bank of Ireland shares.” Aer Lingus slipped back below €1.40, down 1.4 per cent. Glanbia pushed to €9 for the first time, up 2.5 per cent making it an all time high. IFG posted strong results yesterday; trading up to €1.40. IFG was one of the strongest performers yesterday , up 4.48 per cent.

Britain’s top shares closed lower in an unsettling day yesterday, with Cypriot banks due to reopen on Thursday amidst fears growing that the euro zone is slipping back into crisis. UK stocks fell, even as the FTSE 100 Index headed for its longest run of monthly gains since 1997, as Italian bond yields rose after the Mediterranean country sold debt and US data showed pending house sales dropped in February. ICAP declined the most in more than four months after the world’s largest broker of transactions between banks said profit will slip this year. TUI Travel rose 4 per cent after forecasting that its operating profit will grow at the top of its projections in 2013. The FTSE 100 Index lost 11.81 points, or 0.2 per cent, to 6,387.56 at the close of trading in London. The benchmark gauge has still rallied 8.3 per cent so far this year as US lawmakers agreed on a compromise budget and US jobs and housing data beat forecasts. The broader FTSE All-Share Index slid 0.3 per cent yesterday.

European stocks fell to a three- week low, led by a selloff in banks, as the leader of Italy’s Democratic Party ruled out the possibility that rival politicians will agree on a broad coalition government. Meanwhile, a Greek newspaper reported that Cyprus will impose a ban on cashing cheques and limit the amount of cash that can be taken out of the country under measures to avert a run on its banks. France’s CAC 40 dropped 1 per cent and Germany’s DAX slid 1.2 per cent.

Spain’s Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena SpA and Banco Popolare SC slid more than 1 percent as Italian bond yields surged. The Stoxx Europe 600 Index slid 0.5 per cent to 292.44 at the close of trading in London. The gauge climbed in afternoon trading yesterday as better-than-estimated US data bolstered confidence in the world’s largest economy.

US stocks declined, after the Standard and Poor’s 500 Index yesterday approached a record high, as concern over Europe’s debt crisis intensified and pending American home sales slipped in February. Banks fell as JPMorgan Chase and Co and Citigroup lost at least 0.9 per cent. Cliffs Natural Resources tumbled 16 per cent after Morgan Stanley downgraded the shares. Apple slumped 2 per cent after Pacific Crest predicted it would miss revenue expectations. Dollar General slid 2.3 per cent after saying 30 million shares will be sold in a secondary offering.

The S&P 500 dropped 0.2 per cent to 1,560.84 at 1.45pm in New York, paring an earlier decline of as much as 0.8 percent. – ( Additional Reporting: Bloomberg, Reuters )