European stocks slide but M&A talk lifts Italian banks

UK stocks lag after new job protection plan underwhelms investors, Iseq unchanged

European stocks slid on Thursday, with UK markets leading the way after Britain’s government launched a scaled-back job support programme, while a second wave of Covid-19 cases across the continent dampened investor sentiment.


The Iseq index ended flat on Thursday with banks and food-related stocks dragging.

A warning from Goodbody earlier in the week that Irish banks face a "hectic" period in the final quarter of the year as borrowers come off extended Covid payment breaks continued to resonate. Bank of Ireland was down 1 per cent with AIB 2.5 per cent lower.

Food stocks were also down due in part to Brexit concerns with Glanbia dropping 2.7 per cent and Kerry 1.8 per cent.


Ryanair closed unchanged but given the pummelling that other airlines took on the day it got away lightly.

Smurfit was down 2 per cent while other movers included Kingspan, which has proven resilient of late. It closed up 1 per cent.


London shares dropped on Thursday, hitting session lows after Britain scaled back job support for workers hit by the resurgent coronavirus pandemic, while AstraZeneca slid as US trials for its Covid-19 vaccine remained on hold. After two days of gains driven by new restrictions to curb a resurgence in Covid-19 cases being less severe than expected, the blue-chip FTSE 100 index fell 1.3 per cent, while the mid-caps index closed down 1.1 per cent.

AstraZeneca lost almost 3 per cent. The US Food and Drug Administration is yet to approve the restart of clinical trials of its potential Covid-19 vaccine in the United States, almost three weeks after it was paused.

Cinema chain Cineworld tumbled 14.8 per cent, recording its biggest single-day fall in more than three months, as it swung to a first-half loss and flagged risks to its ability to continue as a “going concern”.

Engineering firm Smiths Group slid on reporting a 23 per cent drop in annual profit, while Pets At Home jumped after saying it expects annual earnings to beat market consensus.


The pan-European STOXX 600 index fell 1 per cent to close at its lowest level since August 3rd, with the retail, oil & gas and financial services sectors falling the most.

Italy's third-largest bank, Banco BPM, jumped 5.8 per cent and Credito Valtellinese surged 11.6 per cent, with traders citing a Bloomberg report that suggested talks of possible takeover interest from French bank Credit Agricole.

Earlier, a Banco BPM spokeswoman said it was not in contact with bigger rival UniCredit over a potential merger, dismissing a press report. UniCredit rose 2.3 per cent.

The STOXX 600 had cut losses earlier in the session after surveys showed business morale in Germany and France improved for the fifth month in a row in September, suggesting that both countries are set for strong growth in the third quarter.

The German DAX was down 0.3 per cent, outperforming the regional indexes, while France’s CAC 40 fell 0.8 per cent.


Wall Street climbed in choppy trading on Thursday, with investors returning to the perceived safety of technology-related stocks as a surprise rise in weekly jobless claims signalled a slowdown in economic growth.

Nine of the 11 major S&P indexes were trading higher, with information technology leading gains. Apple, Amazon, Netflix, Nvidia and Facebook, which have outperformed at a time of increased economic uncertainty, rose between 0.5 per cent and 2.7 per cent.

Nikola, which is set for its biggest weekly decline ever, shed another 4.3 per cent as Wedbush downgraded the stock to “underperform”.

Accenture fell 6.4 per cent after the consulting firm forecast current-quarter revenue below expectations, while, US-listed shares of Canadian security software firm BlackBerry jumped 5 per cent after it posted a surprise rise in quarterly revenue. – Additional reporting: Reuters

Charlie Taylor

Charlie Taylor

Charlie Taylor is a former Irish Times business journalist