European stocks tread water as investors review earnings reports

In Dublin, Ryanair falls following bigger-than-expected losses at rival EasyJet

Ryanair’s modest reversal in the context of a sector-wide decline was viewed as positive by traders. File photograph: Bryan O’Brien/The Irish Times

Ryanair’s modest reversal in the context of a sector-wide decline was viewed as positive by traders. File photograph: Bryan O’Brien/The Irish Times

 

European stocks ended the session little changed and near a 21-month high as investors assessed a mix of earnings reports from companies including EasyJet and Vodafone.

The Stoxx Europe 600 Index slipped less than 0.1 per cent to close at 395.91. The benchmark rose to a 21-month intra-day high on Monday, following a rally spurred by optimism over the result of the French presidential election. That made the region’s shares the most expensive in a year relative to global peers.

DUBLIN

The Iseq fell 40 points to close at 7,015, slightly underperforming its European peers, albeit on thin trading volumes.

Ryanair shares fell 1 per cent to €17.03 after rival EasyJet announced a bigger-than-expected half-year loss. The Brexit-related slide in sterling has eaten into the earnings of budget airlines in Europe. However, Ryanair’s modest reversal in the context of a sector-wide decline was viewed as positive by traders.

While Bank of Ireland was flat at 24 cents, rival Permanent TSB was down 1 per cent at €2.66 with some investors said to be profit-taking following last week’s positive results.

Drinks group C&C traded up 1 per cent at €3.53 ahead of results due out today.

Food group Glanbia was up marginally at €18.01 ahead of a crucial vote on whether the Glanbia Co-op should buy 60 per cent of the plc’s consumer foods and agribusiness division on Thursday.

LONDON

In UK stocks, Vodafone shares jumped 8.35p to £2.19, despite reporting annual losses of €6.1 billion after taking a mammoth hit at its Indian arm. EasyJet shares were one of the worst performers on the FTSE 100, dropping 95p to £12.15 after logging a £236 million pre-tax loss in the six months to March 31st, which compares with an £18 million loss in the same period last year.

Crest Nicholson fell 16.5p to £6.20. The housebuilder said that average selling prices hit £418,000 in the six months to April 30th, but the sales rate per site dropped from 0.9 per cent to 0.8 per cent. Mr Kipling cakes firm Premier Foods saw shares fall 0.75p to 42.25p following an 11 per cent drop in adjusted pre-tax profit to £74.2 million in the year to April 1st.

EUROPE

Germany’s DAX hit a fresh all-time peak before reversing course to end flat.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 index ended little changed, while France’s CAC fell 0.2 per cent.

Électricité de France shares jumped 6 per cent after French president Emmanuel Macron appointed former lobbyist for atomic-energy company Areva, Edouard Philippe, as prime minister, raising expectations of a pro-nuclear energy policy.

NEW YORK

US stocks reversed course as some investors locked in gains after the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq hit record highs, with healthcare and industrial stocks leading the decliners.

While strong first-quarter earnings supported the indexes in the past few weeks, global geopolitical tensions and developments in Washington could unsettle the market’s record-setting spree.

Healthcare was the top loser with a 0.5 per cent decline. Pfizer was down 1.8 per cent at $32.54 after Citigroup downgraded the drug developer’s stock to “sell” from “neutral”. Staples was off 5 per cent and was the top percentage loser on the S&P 500 after the office supplies retailer reported a decline in quarterly sales. Akebia Therapeutics was up 15 per cent at $14.85 after the drug developer entered into an agreement with Vifor Pharma Group, which also made a $50 million equity investment in the company.

Additional reporting: Reuters and Bloomberg