European values surge on hopes of stimulus-fuelled Covid-19 recovery

Investors broadly look past news of restriction on AstraZeneca vaccine in several states

European shares hit record highs on Thursday on hopes of stimulus-fuelled recoveries from the Covid-19 crisis.


Food and ingredients group Glanbia, best known to shoppers as the processor of Avonmore milk and other dairy products, surged 5.3 per cent on Thursday to €13.51.

Dealers noted that the Kilkenny-headquartered group's shares had been underperforming for most of the last year, despite its underlying strong business. Rival Kerry Group also gained ground, climbing 2.28 per cent to €112.10.

Airline Ryanair Holdings shed 2.22 per cent to €16.515. The carrier released full-year passenger figures this week and also predicted that losses for the 12 months to March 31st, 2022, would be lower than previously expected.


Dealers said that airline stocks generally were weak across Europe, falling between 1.5 per cent and 3 per cent, as investors once again became cautious of the industry. "Ryanair was somewhere in the middle of that," said one.

Packaging group Smurfit Kappa closed 0.44 per cent down at €40.43, but the stock had earlier been down at €39.98, as it went ex-dividend on Thursday.

House builder Cairn Homes climbed 1.83 per cent to €1.11. Rival Glenveagh was up 0.53 per cent at 94 cent.

Irish banks were weak. AIB slipped 0.36 per cent to €2.202. Bank of Ireland was down 0.59 per cent at €4.186.


Aer Lingus owner IAG fell 1.5 per cent to 214.55p sterling as investors swerved airlines.

Budget rival Easyjet, a key competitor of Ryanair's, was down 2.83 per cent at 991.6p.

Mining giant Anglo American gave the blue-chip FTSE 100 index one of its biggest boosts on Thursday, climbing 3.21 per cent to 3,084p.

The multinational earlier announced plans to spin off its African coal mining operations.

Chemicals maker Johnson Matthey gained 1.5 per cent after it forecast annual profit at the top end of market expectations and said it had started a strategic review of its health business.

Lookers jumped 14.8 per cent after the auto retailer forecast 2021 underlying profit before tax to be materially ahead of analysts' estimates.


Data showed German industrial orders rose for the second month in a row in February, driven by strong domestic demand – a further sign that manufacturers are set to cushion a pandemic – related drop in overall output in the first quarter.

Investors broadly looked past news that several European countries had announced restrictions on the use of AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine in younger people, after a link was found to rare blood clots. The Anglo-Swedish drugmaker’s shares climbed 2 per cent.

Holland-based technology investor Prosus NV rose slightly after it sold 2 per cent of China's Tencent Holdings Ltd for $14.7 billion in the world's largest-ever block trade.

Air France KLM shed 3.17 per cent to close at €5.31. Lufthansa was down 2.42 per cent at €11.27.


The S&P 500 hit a record peak on Thursday, helped by gains in tech-related stocks as weaker-than-expected jobless claims data bolstered the Federal Reserve’s stance to keep interest rates lower for a longer period.

Apple, Microsoft, Alphabet and Amazon rose between 1 per cent and 1.5 per cent and were among the top boosts to the benchmark index.

High-growth tech stocks have recovered in recent sessions as US 10-year bond yield backed off from its 14-month peak, pushing the tech-heavy Nasdaq to a seven-week high and within 2 per cent of its record closing high.

Tesla gained 2 per cent on the Joe Biden administration's $174 billion proposal to boost electric vehicles.

US shares of Canopy Growth dropped about 3 per cent on a deal to buy rival Supreme Cannabis Co for $256.9 million, as the world's biggest cannabis producer bolsters its portfolio to tap surging demand. – Additional reporting Reuters

Barry O'Halloran

Barry O'Halloran

Barry O’Halloran covers energy, construction, insolvency, and gaming and betting, among other areas