European stocks were subdued on Friday, but marked their longest weekly winning streak since November 2019 as hopes of a rapid recovery in economic growth offset doubts over the euro zone’s Covid-19 vaccination programme.
Volumes were thin in Dublin on Friday, with little in the way of company news and with investors both here and elsewhere continuing to hedge their bets while they wait to see what happens in terms of the Covid crisis.
The Iseq closed down 0.1 per cent at 8117.12.
Ryanair followed other airlines lower as hopes of summer travel resuming faded amid criticism of the British government's plans. The carrier was down 1 per cent to €16.34.
Iseq heavyweight CRH rose 1.4 per cent to €40.85 on news of US president Joe Biden's infrastructure plan.
Other movers in Dublin included Flutter, down 1.2 per cent to €176.70, Smurfit Kappa, which closed 1.9 per cent lower at €39.99, and Kingspan, up 1 per cent to €73.16.
London’s Ftse 100 ended lower on Friday as heavyweight mining stocks tracked lower commodity prices, although the blue-chip index recorded its best weekly performance since early January on optimism about a recovery in the UK economy.
The Ftse 100 fell 0.3 per cent, with British American Tobacco dropping 2.5 per cent – the top loser on the index – after JP Morgan downgraded the stock to "neutral" from "overweight".
Travel stocks fell 1.3 per cent and were the second biggest losers for the day after British travel company Jet2 said it was cancelling holidays until late June, blaming uncertainty in government plans for restarting international travel, which were condemned by airlines.
However, losses were limited by a rise in consumer discretionary stocks, with Britain's biggest sportswear retailer, JD Sports Fashion, the top gainer on the Ftse 100, ending 4.3 per cent higher after Berenberg raised its price target on the stock.
The Ftse 100 index was up 2.7 per cent on the week, its biggest since the week ending January 8th. For the year so far, it has added more than 7 per cent following increased vaccine rollouts and government support to lift the economy from a pandemic-driven recession.
In company news, global recruitment firm PageGroup jumped 10.9 per cent to the top of the mid-cap index on a higher 2021 profit outlook.
The pan-European Stoxx 600 index was up 0.1 per cent after hitting an all-time high at the open.
European stocks hit a series of all-time highs this week, despite setbacks on the vaccination front after European regulators found a potential link between AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine and reports of rare brain blood clots.
Airbus rose 0.3 per cent after the French aircraft manufacturer reported slightly higher deliveries in the first quarter.
Holiday company TUI fell 2.1 per cent after it said it was raising €350 million through an issuance of convertible bonds to bolster its finances and repay debt.
The S&P 500 and the Dow hit record highs early on Friday as economy-linked stocks, including banks and industrials, gained on optimism around strong US economic growth.
Financial stocks rose 0.6 per cent, more than any other S&P sector, with Bank of America, Citigroup and JPMorgan Chase rising 0.5-0.9 per cent.
Honeywell gained about 2 per cent as Jefferies and JP Morgan raised their price targets on the US aero parts maker's shares.