European stocks halt five days of losses

Equity markets in London, Frankfurt and Paris nudge upwards as Portugal fear recedes

Investors  were betting that  the financial troubles of Portugal’s Banco Espirito Santo won’t spiral into a euro zone banking crisis. Photograph: Reuters

Investors were betting that the financial troubles of Portugal’s Banco Espirito Santo won’t spiral into a euro zone banking crisis. Photograph: Reuters

 

European stocks were little changed, halting five days of losses, amid increased takeover activity, while investors also bet that the financial troubles of Portugal’s Banco Espirito Santo won’t spiral into a euro zone banking crisis.

Portugal’s PSI 20 Index plunged to a nine-month low on Thursday after the parent of Banco Espirito Santo delayed making payments on some short-term debt. However, investors took the view during Friday’s session that it was an isolated incident that is unlikely to have systemic implications.

Dublin

Smurfit Kappa was one of the better performing stocks, with the paper and packaging benefitting from positive pricing news in the containerboard industry, sending it up 2.8 per cent to €15.41.

Recruitment company CPL issued a trading update indicating that its pre-tax profits will be in line with market expectations and pointing to a strong balance sheet. Its stock rose 1.5 per cent to €6.90.

Food group Kerry increased almost 0.7 per cent to €55.70, amid reports of Japanese interest in Symrise, a German manufacturer of flavours and fragrances, which Kerry also makes. Elsewhere, Independent News & Media gained 2.7 per cent to 15 cent.

London

The index added 0.3 per cent at the close in London, having dropped 2.6 per cent overall this week, as investors weighed valuations that hovered near the highest level since December 2009.

Shire surged 5.9 per cent on new signs that the firm may have to engage with rival AbbVie to discuss the drugmaker’s $51 billion takeover bid.

Kazakhmys fell 2.7 per cent to 315.2 pence as London-listed miners slid. African Barrick Gold declined 3.1 per cent to 225.3 pence, while Randgold Resources lost 2.2 per cent to 5,120 pence and Fresnillo retreated 1.8 per cent to 928 pence. Some 11 of the 15 companies on the FTSE 350 Mining Index declined.

Burberry shares closed 0.8 per cent down at £14.53. Shareholders rejected the company’s remuneration report in a non-binding vote seen as a warning to chief executive Christopher Bailey.

Europe

Symrise climbed 2.7 per cent to €40.24 as a report said Japan’s Ajinomoto may be interested in buying the German maker of flavours and fragrances.

Italian appliance maker Indesit added 2.9 per cent to €10.83 after Whirlpool agreed to pay $1 billion for a controlling stake in the company.

HeidelbergCement, the world’s third-largest maker of cement, retreated 2.7 per cent to €59.83 after analysts at Natixis downgraded the shares to reduce from neutral.

US

Wells Fargo fell 1 per cent after reporting per-share earnings that did not rise for the first time in 18 quarters. Clothing retailer Gap declined 1.5 per cent to $40.35 after it said sales in stores open at least a year fell 2 per cent in June. Retail analysts had forecast a rise in sales.

Chevron sank 1.3 per cent to $128.61 for the biggest decline in the Dow Jones in early trading. Amazon.com jumped 4.1 per cent, while eBay climbed 2.3 per cent. (Additional reporting: Bloomberg / Reuters.)