European stocks lose steam as investors press pause on ‘Biden bounce’

Renewable energy companies climb after new US president rejoins Paris Agreement

The pan-European Stoxx 600 index ended flat after rising as much as 0.8 per cent earlier in the session as positive sentiment ebbed away in the afternoon.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 index ended flat after rising as much as 0.8 per cent earlier in the session as positive sentiment ebbed away in the afternoon.

 

European stocks lost steam heading into the close on Thursday, weighed down by oil and real estate shares, while the European Central Bank (ECB) stuck to its monetary policy but warned that a rise in Covid-19 infections posed a risk to the euro zone’s recovery.

The ECB offered few surprises after it kept its policy unchanged, while president Christine Lagarde said it was prepared to provide even more economic support if needed.

Dublin

The Iseq closed up about 0.3 per cent, bucking the negative trend. This was despite a 0.5 per cent decline for cement-maker CRH, which has been the beneficiary of a “Biden bounce” since November, but slipped to €36.73 in the more subdued session.

Ryanair was another key faller, dropping 2.25 per cent to €15.20, while ferry operator Irish Continental Group declined 3 per cent to €4.13. But packaging giant Smurfit Kappa added 2.6 per cent to €41.52, while it was a good day for food stocks, with Kerry rising 1.25 per cent to €113.40 and Glanbia advancing 1.4 per cent to €10.45.

Property stocks were also off the boil, with Glenveagh Properties falling almost 1.9 per cent to 85 cent and Cairn Homes losing 2.5 per cent to finish at €1.02 after its plan to build more than 600 homes on land formerly owned by RTÉ in Dublin suffered a delay.

AIB rose 1.2 per cent to €1.66, while Bank of Ireland declined 1.3 per cent to €3.30.

London

It was a lacklustre session for the FTSE 100, with the blue-chip index ending almost 0.4 per cent lower, while the mid-caps on the FTSE 250 finished down 0.4 per cent as the buoyant inauguration mood faded.

Energy giant BP fell 3.1 per cent, while Royal Dutch Shell dropped 2.9 per cent, as oil prices slipped after industry data showed a surprise increase in US crude inventories.

Software maker Sage Group jumped 4.9 per cent after posting higher quarterly recurring revenue, but financial company IG tumbled almost 9 per cent after it announced plans to buy US trading platform Tastytrade for $1 billion.

Aer Lingus owner International Consolidated Airlines Group declined 3 per cent, while the Daily Mail and General Trust (DMGT) edged down 1.1 per cent after reporting a fall in revenues from newspaper sales.

There was better news for Pets at Home, which added 2.2 per cent after updating investors. The retailer has seen sales rise after the pandemic led to a pet ownership boom.

Europe

The pan-European Stoxx 600 index ended flat after rising as much as 0.8 per cent earlier in the session as positive sentiment ebbed away in the afternoon.

Euro zone stocks came off session highs to close 0.1 per cent lower with the euro strengthening against the dollar, while euro zone banks slid 0.6 per cent.

European shares had earlier rallied to near 11-month highs as investors bet on major stimulus from US president Joe Biden, who signed half a dozen executive orders including a US return to the international Paris Agreement to fight climate change.

Shares in wind turbine maker Vestas, renewable energy group Siemens Gamesa and offshore wind group Orsted rose between 1.4 per cent and 3.9 per cent.

In Germany, the Dax nudged down 0.1 per cent, while the French Cac 40 finished 0.7 per cent lower. French oil giant Total dropped 2.3 per cent amid the softening of oil prices.

US

Wall Street’s main indexes hovered near record highs as investors counted on more pandemic relief and speedy vaccine rollouts to support the economy after data showed a weakening labour market recovery.

United Airlines dropped 7 per cent after posting a fourth straight quarterly loss, but Ford Motor Co jumped 9 per cent, extending gains for a second straight day after Deutsche Bank raised its price target.

– Additional reporting: Reuters.