European stocks little changed as investors wait to hear from Yellen
Iseq underperforms, as major stocks CRH and Ryanair slip
Trading volumes were kept in check as investors waited for Federal Reserve chairwoman Janet Yellen (above) to deliver her first report on monetary policy today.
European stocks were little changed in thin trade as L’Oréal and Nokia rallied, offsetting worse-than-forecast reports on industrial production in France and Italy. The economic data showed December industrial production fell 0.3 per cent in France and 0.9 per cent in Italy, both missing estimates.
Trading volumes were kept in check as investors waited for Federal Reserve chairwoman Janet Yellen to deliver her first report on monetary policy today.
The Iseq index lost 0.6 per cent, going against the trend in London. The underperformance could be attributed to declines in the small handful of stocks that dominate the Dublin market, with building materials group CRH ending the session down 0.9 per cent at €19.65 and the second biggest component of the index, Ryanair, dropping 1.9 per cent to €7.07, as analysts at Davy Research highlighted the need for more visibility on summer bookings. Aer Lingus lost 2.6 per cent to finish at €1.53, while Bank of Ireland slipped 1.3 per cent to 30 cent and drinks group C&C closed down 2 per cent at €4.45.
Paper and packaging group Smurfit Kappa was one of the few significant stocks to post a gain, with its share price adding 1.2 per cent to €18.01 ahead of the publication of its full-year results tomorrow. Dairy producer Glanbia also managed to buck the downward pressure, closing up 0.6 per cent at €11.02.
UK stocks advanced for a fourth day, as a rally in gold miners outweighed a decline in energy suppliers, helping the FTSE 100 index to a 0.3 per cent gain.
Randgold Resources added 2.4 per cent to 4530 pence and Fresnillo, which produces gold and silver in Mexico, advanced 8.8 per cent to 862.5 pence, after gold prices rose. African Barrick Gold surged 6.7 per cent to 238.5 pence after analysts at HSBC upgraded its rating on the stock.
Barclays climbed 1.2 per cent to 275 pence after reporting adjusted pretax profit for 2013 of £5.2 billion. This missed analysts’ forecasts of £5.4 billion, but investors took the view that the lower-than-expected figure was due to an acceleration in its restructuring plan, and considered that a positive.
Centrica slid 1.7 per cent to 308.9 pence as the UK’s energy secretary Ed Davey said he had written to regulators asking them to investigate whether the company is too profitable.
The Stoxx Europe 600 Index gained less than 0.1 per cent to 325.3 at the close, holding onto last week’s 0.8 per cent climb, as investors bet that the Federal Reserve will delay a third cut to bond purchases after US jobs data missed estimates. National benchmark indexes advanced in 10 of the 18 western European markets, with France’s Cac 40 adding 0.2 per cent and Germany’s Dax dropping 0.1 per cent.
L’Oreal jumped the most since May 2010 as Nestle was said to explore ways to reduce its 29 per cent stake in the biggest cosmetics maker. The stock gained 4.5 per cent to €129 after Nestle signalled its intention to reduce its stake in the company.
Nokia advanced 2.8 per cent to €5.39 after HTC agreed to pay it royalties as part of a patent-row settlement. The financial terms were not disclosed.
Stocks fluctuated in early trading, following the largest weekly gain this year for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index.
McDonald’s slid 0.9 per cent to $95.02 as sales at its established US stores fell for the third straight month.
Yelp jumped 2.5 per cent to $91.63 after it was reported that Yahoo! will use the reviews provider to add context to its search results. Yahoo! advanced 1 per cent to $37.60.
Apple gained 1.9 per cent to $529.71 as activist investor Carl Icahn backed away from his push to increase share repurchases at the iPhone maker. – (Additional reporting: Bloomberg)