Focus on geopolitics as US markets remain closed for Independence Day
Trading volumes down as European stocks fall
Bulmers maker C&C finished the session 1.1 per cent down, ahead of Thursday’s trading update and annual general meeting.
Trading volumes were about one quarter lower than usual on the Irish Stock Exchange, in a knock-on from Tuesday’s closure of US markets for Independence Day celebrations.
European stocks fell for the fifth time in six sessions on the thin volumes, with geopolitics in focus after North Korea said it successfully test-fired an intercontinental ballistic missile.
A rally in Worldpay shares to a record high was not enough to offset a broad-based decline among British shares on Wednesday, after a strong start to the second half for the UK’s top share index.
The Iseq finished the day ahead by 0.5 per cent, outperforming many European peers, on trading €200 million down on normal levels.
Magners/Bulmers cider maker C&C finished the session 1.1 per cent down, ahead of Thursday’s trading update and annual general meeting. US investor groups Southeastern and Brandes have built large stakes in the company in recent weeks, leading to speculation about their long-term intentions.
Swiss-Irish food group, Aryzta, was among the strongest performers on the Irish market, up more than 3 per cent.
FBD, the listed insurer, finished down about 0.6 per cent, shrugging off most of the uncertainty around the Irish insurance market following reports of competition raids across the sector by regulators. FBD was not among the businesses raided.
Britain’s blue-chip FTSE 100 index ended down 0.3 per cent at 7,357.23 points, having broken a four-day losing streak in the previous session. Mid caps declined 0.1 per cent.
Payment processor Worldpay rocketed 27.7 per cent after news it received competing bids from US credit card technology firm Vantiv and JPMorgan Chase Bank. Analysts said other companies might now be interested in bidding.
Tuesday saw banking stocks ease 0.8 per cent, following strong gains in the previous session. Oil stocks ended flat as oil prices stabilised near $50 a barrel on signs that US crude production may be slowing.
Shares in BP fell 0.3 per cent. HSBC and Standard Chartered were 1.1 per cent and 0.6 per cent lower.
Results helped shares in grocer Sainsbury edge around 0.3 per cent higher. Britain’s second-largest supermarket said sales growth accelerated in its latest quarter, helped by inflation and warm weather.Shares in peer Morrison nudged 0.4 per cent higher. Tesco was down 0.1 per cent.
The impact of inflation, both on wages and on the cost of food imports, has been a cause for concern for British supermarkets since sterling’s drop after Britain voted to leave the European Union last June.
Swiss chemicals company Clariant climbed after its planned $6.4 billion takeover of Huntsman came under attack by two US investors who are pushing the Swiss chemicals maker to explore alternatives to the six-week-old transatlantic deal. Activist investor Keith Meister’s Corvex hedge fund and New York’s 40 North have taken a 7.2 per cent stake in Clariant to fight the planned merger with Huntsman.
Markets remained closed for the Independence Day holiday.
(Additional reporting: Bloomberg/Reuters)