Hope for European banks as speculation mounts over end to ECB stimulus
Mixed performance for Irish banks with AIB up 0.7% and Bank of Ireland down over 0.3%
Ryanair: the airline fell 2.6 per cent to €16.13 following downgrades by Deutsche Bank and Exane BNP. Photograph: Andrew Yates/Reuters
European shares dipped on Thursday at the end of a choppy session. In the US, a rally in technology stocks came to a halt , setting up the Nasdaq for its first loss in five days, while a jump in McDonald’s shares and energy stocks boosted the Dow.
London’s blue-chip FTSE 100 index struggled to gain ground after a delayed opening due to a technical error.
On the Iseq, Ryanair fell 2.6 per cent to €16.13, following downgrades by Deutsche Bank and Exane BNP which says it “sees no compelling value” in the stock any more.
Origin Enterprises food group rose by more than 2.5 per cent to €5.69, after announcing the appointment of former Aer Lingus executive Sean Coyle as its new chief financial officer. He joins from UDG Healthcare.
Irish banks put in a mixed performance, with AIB up 0.7 per cent to €4.94, and Bank of Ireland down more than 0.3 per cent to €7.35.
As optimism crept into the European banking sector on higher bond yields, BoI was deep in positive territory in the afternoon, before dropping back late in the day.
The FTSE 100 fell 7.97 points, having opened an hour later than usual after a technical glitch.
SSE’s shares climbed despite the energy giant receiving a slap on the wrist from the regulator. The firm was ordered to pay £1 million for sending out inaccurate and misleading annual statements to pre-payment meter customers.
Marks & Spencer boss Steve Rowe saw his pay slashed last year after profits at the high street giant plunged, but will still walk away with £1.1 million. Mr Rowe, who is overseeing a drastic store closure plan, stomached a 31 per cent reduction in total pay from £1.64 million in 2017. Shares fell 1.13 per cent.
Debenhams’ stock was hit by the news that rival House of Fraser was to close more than half its stores. The department store’s shares fell by 4.15 per cent.
Kering, which hit a fresh record high earlier this week, fell more than 4 per cent. Gucci, the biggest earnings driver at the French group, said it expected sales to grow at twice the pace of the luxury market in coming years and for revenue to eventually reach €10 billion. Traders cited worries that margins and growth in the sector may have peaked, including in the key Chinese market. Shares in Kering rival LVMH fell 3 per cent.
Despite a strong day in general for banks, Italian lenders still fell 1.2 per cent. UBI fell 1.5 per cent after a downgrade from Credit Suisse, while mutual bank Popolare di Sondrio fell on concerns that a government review of a reform of bank governance rules could put at risk its plan to become a joint stock company.
Remy Cointreau fell 4.8 per cent after publishing its annual results with traders citing disappointment over the company’s dividend.
Danish drugmaker Lundbeck fell 1 per cent after it agreed to pay $52.6 million to resolve a US inquiry into its financial support of charitable foundations.
Heading into the afternoon, shares of McDonald’s, the world’s biggest fast-food chain, rose as much as 3.9 per cent to $168.74 after a report that the company was planning a new round of layoffs.
The S&P tech index fell 1.3 per cent, led by heavyweights Microsoft and Facebook. The losses came on the back of a strong rally that had pushed it to record levels, even as the broader market grappled with geopolitical uncertainties.
There were a few bright spots in the tech sector, with some chipmakers and optical stocks gaining after US commerce secretary Wilbur Ross said Washington had reached a deal with China’s ZTE that would allow it to do business again with US suppliers.
Qualcomm, whose products account for most chips used in ZTE smartphones, rose 0.9 per cent. Qualcomm is also trying to get Chinese approval for its pending $44 billion acquisition of NXP Semiconductors, which rose 6.2 per cent. (Additional reporting: Reuters/PA)