European stocks fall while Wall Street edges higher
Iseq lower in line with decline for European markets; Ryanair sheds Wednesday’s gains
Wall Street stocks rose as technology companies rebounded. Photograph: Michael Nagle/Bloomberg
European stocks slid into negative territory after the US Federal Reserve signalled its ongoing concern about the effect of the pandemic on the world’s biggest economy.
Minutes of Fed open markets committee meeting hinted it was not immediately prepared to deploy further unconventional measures to shore up the US economy, putting pressure on equities. Wall Street itself, however, soon rebounded as tech stocks edged higher.
The Iseq index closed 1.5 per cent lower in line with the decline for European markets. Building materials group CRH, the largest stock on the Dublin market, fell 1.9 per cent, weakening over the course of the session as investors digested its first-half earnings announcement. The company reported a 28 per cent slide in first-half profits and said Covid-19 had materially hit its operations.
Ryanair saw a reversal of Wednesday’s gains, with the stock dropping 3.3 per cent to €11.16. Aryzta also lost ground, with the Swiss-Irish bakery group falling 3.4 per cent to 51 cent.
The financial stocks were also among the fallers, with Bank of Ireland finishing 5.1 per cent lower at €1.84, while AIB was 3.8 per cent down at €1.02. Packaging group Smurfit Kappa closed at €29.58, down 3.4 per cent.
Ferries operator Irish Continental Group climbed, adding 4.1 per cent to €3.33, while Ires Reit rose 3.7 per cent to €1.47.
The FTSE 100 of blue-chip stocks fell 1.6 per cent, while the more domestically focused FTSE 250 was 0.5 per cent lower.
Airlines plunged, undoing the previous day’s jump. Budget airline easyJet fell 3.6 per cent, while Aer Lingus owner International Consolidated Airlines Group (IAG) closed 5.2 per cent lower as the resurgence of Covid-19 in Europe continued.
Royal Dutch Shell fell 2.3 per cent. The Anglo-Dutch oil company said it is considering a sale of a Norwegian natural gas supplier, extending a trend for energy giants to selectively dispose of assets.
Greencore, the UK-listed Irish food company hit last week by a Covid-19 outbreak at its Northampton facility, saw its share price recover 4.2 per cent.
The Stoxx Europe 600 index fell 1.1 per cent, as Wednesday’s upbeat tone was undone. In Germany, the Dax closed down 1.1 per cent, while France’s Cac 40 index was 1.3 per cent lower. Spanish and Italian stocks also finished in the red.
US stocks rose as a rebound in technology companies tempered investors’ concerns about lasting economic damage from the pandemic. Equities had initially slumped as applications for unemployment benefits unexpectedly increased, adding to suspicion that the stock market bullishness was out of kilter with prospects for economic recovery.
But some momentum gathered as China confirmed plans to talk with US officials to review progress on a preliminary trade deal.
The tech rally offset a slide in energy producers and banks in the S&P 500, while the Nasdaq 100 of heavyweights such as Apple and Tesla climbed toward a record. Apple traded 1.4 per cent higher at 5.30pm Irish time, while Microsoft was up 1.1 per cent and Facebook 1.2 per cent. Tesla advanced more than 6 per cent.
Intel – the world’s largest chipmaker – jumped after it entered into accelerated agreements to buy back $10 billion of shares.
Beauty company Estée Lauder fell as much as 8.6 per cent after announcing it would cut jobs and close stores as part of a multiyear restructuring plan prompted by pandemic disruption. – Additional reporting: Bloomberg/Reuters