European stocks ride wave of optimism about stimulus measures

UK blue-chip share index closes best week in six months

European stocks posted their biggest weekly gain in two months amid optimism that central banks from the US to Japan will continue their stimulus measures.

Britain’s blue-chip share index closed its best week in six months yesterday, led higher by banks although Chinese growth concerns hit mining stocks.

The Iseq had a lackluster day with low volumes across the board.

Grafton Group fell more than 1 per cent to close at €5.45. Despite a reasonably positive trading statement on Monday, shares have flat-lined throughout the week.


On a down day for construction stocks, CRH performed well. The building materials group closed up almost 1 per cent at €15.61

Packaging group Smurfit Kappa had a very strong day on foot of positive container board pricing news from France and Germany. Shares closed up 3.17 per cent at €14, a recent high for the stock.

Ryanair traded pretty flat all day, up by 0.31 per cent to close at €7.13 while rival Aer Lingus had a relatively decent run, ending the day 2.45 per cent up at €1.67.

Shares in bookmaker Paddy Power drifted throughout the afternoon, closing down 2.42 per cent at €64.63.

Credit checking agency Experian was one of the blue-chip fallers, down 16p to 1183p amid fears over the impact of slowing economic growth in Brazil, which overshadowed news of a 7 per cent rise in revenues for the three months to June 30th.

Cillit Bang household goods giant Reckitt Benckiser was the biggest faller, down 5.1 per cent or 252p to 4677p after a downbeat broker note from Nomura International.

But an upgrade from Nomura ensured better fortunes for insurer Resolution, up 3.4 per cent or 10.5p to 318.5p.

Supermarkets were also buoyed as upmarket chain Waitrose reported its best sales performance outside Christmas and Easter last week thanks to the hot weather and Wimbledon boost, which saw sales surge 16.8 per cent. Sainsbury's rose 7.5p to 382.8p, while Morrisons was 2.5p ahead at 283p.

European stocks were little changed from a five-week high, as investors awaited US earnings next week.

The Stoxx Europe 600 Index fell 0.1 per cent at the close of trading, after earlier advancing as much as 0.6 per cent. National benchmark indexes climbed in eight of the 18 western-European markets.

Daimler AG jumped 6.2 per cent to €52.35. The world's third-largest maker of luxury cars posted second-quarter profits that beat analyst predictions following the sale of its final holding in the parent company of plane maker Airbus SAS. Earnings before interest and taxes totalled €5.2 billion, the Stuttgart, Germany-based company said in a statement.

SAP AG climbed 1.2 per cent to €57.36 and Cap Gemini SA gained 1.8 per cent to €39.95.

Peugeot Alliance PSA Peugeot Citroen rallied 4.2 per cent to €7.87, its highest price in a year, amid speculation the carmaker may form an alliance and succeed in a turnaround.

In Spain, the government announced plans to cut profit for renewable energy companies and the electric grid operator as part of government efforts to eliminate a €4.5 billion deficit forecast this year for the industry. Iberdrola SA, Spain's biggest power company, fell 3.4 per cent to €3.87.

Bank stocks gained slightly after strong earnings from big lenders JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo.

The S&P financial sector index advanced 0.4 per cent after JPMorgan Chase & Co reported a 31 per cent jump in quarterly profits. The stock was up 0.2 per cent at $55.25. Shares of Wells Fargo, the biggest US mortgage lender, jumped 1.8 per cent to $42.63 after posting quarterly results that topped expectations.– (Additional reporting, Bloomberg)

Joanne Hunt

Joanne Hunt

Joanne Hunt, a contributor to The Irish Times, writes about homes and property, lifestyle, and personal finance