FTSE hits record high after Bank of England interest rate rise
Ireland’s benchmark index closes up 0.17 per cent with Total Produce top performer
Apple hit a record high on Friday on strong demand for its iPhone X handsets. Photograph: Lucas Jackson/Reuters
The standout European market news on the last day of the trading week was the FTSE reaching an all-time high following Thursday’s bank of England interest rate rise.
In Ireland, the ISEQ was slightly more muted, closing up by 0.17 per cent, while the pan-European Stoxx 600 index closed up by 0.31 per cent.
Across the continent, the airline sector suffered following results from Air France-KLM, while banks too were off.
Relatively light volume was seen across the board on the ISEQ on Friday, although Ryanair bucked that trend, and wider European trends in the airline sector, to close up by 0.38 per cent. Following a strong set of results earlier in the week, the budget airline managed to avoid being dragged down with its European peers which suffered on the back of results from Air France-KLM.
On Friday morning, Total Produce announced it had struck a deal to acquire a 50 per cent stake in California-based produce export company, the Fresh Connection. The stock closed the day up 2.17 per cent and, while analysts were positive on the acquisition, they noted that it signalled willingness for future deals, an attractive proposition for investors.
Bank of Ireland and Permanent TSB closed the day lower following a wider European trend whereby banks dropped. The Irish stocks were down by 1.35 and 1.36 per cent respectively while AIB closed up by 0.12 per cent.
Other stocks closing the week on a positive note were Smurfit Kappa, whose results earlier in the week helped them close up by 0.65 per cent, and Paddy Power Betfair, which ended up by 2.15 per cent.
British shares hit a record closing high on Friday, supported by a rally in global stocks and the Bank of England’s interest rate hike, which helped British exporters by putting pressure on sterling.
Domestic banks Lloyds and Royal Bank of Scotland were under pressure for a second day on the prospect that the UK tightening cycle would be very gentle. The biggest gainer on the FTSE was NMC Health, up 4.1 per cent, helped by a price target upgrade by Deutsche Bank.
IAG, the owner of British Airways, fell 1.8 per cent, reversing earlier gains. IAG said it was aiming for annual core earnings about 20 per cent higher than previous targets as it stuck to its goals for earnings-per-share growth and margins for the coming years.
European shares crept higher on Friday, with new records also hit in Frankfurt, though earnings from French bank Société Générale and Dutch telecoms group Altice weighed on their sectors and limited gains.
Friday was another busy day of earnings, with the banking sector in focus. Société Générale fell 4.1 per cent after the lender reported third-quarter earnings which included a 15 per cent slump at its investment banking arm.
Spain’s Ibex was one of the few bourses in Europe to close in negative territory with a 1 per cent decline as Spanish banks suffered heavy losses.
Banco Sabadell and Banco Santander lost 2.7 per cent and 1.9 per cent respectively.
Telecoms firm Altice was the biggest loser across Europe with a 22.6 per cent collapse, as investors fretted about the Amsterdam-based group’s ability to recover market share in France.
Shares in Air France-KLM fell 7.5 per cent on concerns about its cost-cutting targets.
The three major Wall Street indexes came off their session lows in early afternoon trading on Friday as Apple hit a record high on strong demand for its latest iPhone X and an upbeat holiday sales forecast.
The shares jumped as much as 3.7 per cent and helped Apple briefly surpass $900 billion in market capitalisation.
Starbucks was up 3.33 per cent following results. AIG fell 4.72 per cent after the insurer posted a bigger-than-expected pretax net quarterly loss of $1.74 billion following catastrophe losses of $3 billion related to hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria. – (Additional reporting: Reuters)