Greek stocks plunge 11% amid political uncertainty

Ryanair, Smith and Nephew and Novo Nordisk make gains on day of thin trade across Europe

The upward Iseq movement was helped by a 2.55% climb for one of its biggest stocks, Ryanair. Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

The upward Iseq movement was helped by a 2.55% climb for one of its biggest stocks, Ryanair. Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

 

Concern about the outcome of a Greek election is likely to translate into weeks of nervous equity markets across the euro zone, analysts forecast.

European stocks were little changed by the end of the session overall, but Greece’s ASE Index tumbled as much as 11 per cent, extending its December slump to 15 per cent. Greek equities sold off after the prime minister, Antonis Samaras, failed to gain enough backing for his named presidential candidate, while the yields on Greek 10-year and three-year bonds also jumped.

A gauge of European stock volatility has surged the most since April 2010 this month, and benchmark stock indexes in Italy and Spain lost more than 0.9 per cent.

DUBLIN The Iseq index gained 0.6 per cent on a day of light trading – the first since the half-day session on Christmas Eve. The upward movement was helped by a 2.55 per cent climb for one of its biggest stocks, Ryanair, with the airline’s share price closing just below €9.80.

Building materials group CRH was stable, closing at €19.75, while food group Glanbia added 2 per cent to €13.06 and beverage company C&C rose 1.2 per cent to €3.63 amid some dealings in the stock. The UK Takeover Panel ruled before Christmas that C&C must either make a firm offer for the Spirit Pub Company or say it does not intend to do so by January 6th.

Insulation-maker Kingspan and agribusiness group Origin Enterprises were also among the stocks that posted gains, but there were falls for food group Kerry and fruit distributor Fyffes. LONDON UK stocks rose for an eighth day, their longest streak in more than a year. The FTSE 100 index of blue-chip stocks were up 0.4 per cent at the close of trading in London. The measure has climbed 7.3 per cent from December 15th, when it plunged to the lowest level since June 2013 as oil’s slump deepened.

Mining stocks advanced, with BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto Group up more than 2.7 per cent.

Medical device maker Smith and Nephew climbed 1.7 per cent for a second day of gains after people familiar with the matter said Stryker, a US producer of surgical implants, is planning a takeover bid for the company.

EasyJet slid 2.2 per cent to 1,642 pence following a five-day rally.

The volume of shares on the gauge changing hands today was 46 per cent lower than the 30-day average, data compiled by Bloomberg show. The broader FTSE All-Share Index added 0.3 per cent. EUROPE All eyes were on Greece, as its banks Attica Bank, National Bank of Greece and Eurobank Ergasias all sank more than 7.7 per cent, posting some of the biggest drops on the Athens Stock Exchange. The ASE index ended the day down 3.9 per cent amid the political uncertainty.

After rising to an almost three-year high in March amid optimism about the nation’s economic recovery, the ASE has slumped 40 per cent. Today’s decline extended its decline for 2014 as a whole to 29 per cent, the worst after Russia’s dollar-denominated RTS Index, which has plunged 45 per cent.

Elsewhere, the benchmark stock indexes of Italy and Spain slid more than 1.1 per cent, while Germany’s DAX index declined 0.2 per cent after earlier falling as much as 1.5 per cent.

Denmark’s Novo Nordisk, the world’s top insulin maker, gained 1.3 per cent as the US Food and Drug Administration approved its Saxenda weight-loss treatment. US US stocks edged higher in the early hours of a thinly-traded session as the market’s recent upward bias continued and put the Dow Jones on track for an eighth straight daily advance.

General Motors rose 2.2 per cent to $34.46 while retail names were also strong on the day. – (Additional reporting: Bloomberg / Reuters.)