European shares fell on Tuesday, marking their fourth straight day of losses, with banks leading the decline on fresh political jitters. The Iseq bucked the trend, rising by a third of a per cent.
British blue chips eased from record highs as sterling recouped some of last week's losses less than two weeks before a general election that will shape talks for the country's exit from the European Union.
US stocks halted a seven-day advance, while the dollar fluctuated as data showing a rebound in consumer spending offset a wider sell-off in commodities.
Swiss-Irish food group
slumped nearly 9 per cent after reporting flat revenues and saying it could not provide a financial outlook. The stock was hammered in late afternoon trading on the Dublin market.
Ryanair jumped 3.8 per cent after Europe's biggest carrier by passengers reported a record annual profit that was in line with market expectations. The airline's traffic grew 13 per cent while its unit costs were down 5 per cent. Ryanair also announced a €600 million share buyback.
Bank of Ireland fell almost 2.5 per cent as the sector was hit hard across Europe following bearish comments from analysts. Paddy Power Betfair also fell 2.5 per cent.
Irish Ferries owner, Irish Continental Group, fell 1.5 per cent a day after announcing it had sold off a ship.
The FTSE 100 was down 0.3 per cent as it reopened after a long holiday weekend, while mid-caps were 0.2 percent lower. Sterling’s bounce weighed on dividend-paying exporters that most benefit from the currency’s weakness.
Sterling weighed on shares of heavyweights such as British American Tobacco, Shire and Imperial Brands – all of which make most of their revenues outside the UK. The three were the biggest drags on the FTSE 100 on the day.
Meanwhile, British Airways and Aer Lingus owner IAG ended the day down 1.4 per cent, among the top fallers on the index despite some of its earlier losses through the afternoon session. It was the first trading for the stock following massive weekend disruption to flights due to an IT outage.
Euro zone banks ended the day 1.6 per cent lower with Spain’s
and BBVA the biggest drags. A
downgrade on the sector soured sentiment. Strategists at the German bank cut their rating on European banks to “underweight” and recommended investors lock in gains following the sector’s strong run since last summer.
Shares in paint maker Akzo fell 1.5 percent as chances of a takeover by US rival PPG slimmed after a court rejected a request by dissident investors to take action against the Dutch group over its rejection of the takeover.
Oil prices fell over 1 per cent on concerns that output cuts by the world’s big exporters may not be enough to drain a global glut that has depressed the market for almost three years.
The energy sector's 0.94 per cent fall led the decliners among the major S&P 500 sectors. Exxon was down 0.4 per cent, while Chevron fell 0.2 per cent.
Adding to the pressure, financial stocks were down 0.5 per cent. JPMorgan fell 1.1 per cent, weighing the most on the S&P, while Goldman Sachs’ 1.6 per cent decline dragged on the Dow.
The Nasdaq Composite was down 2.61 points. The technology sector rose 0.3 per cent. Apple's 0.5 per cent rise was the biggest boost on the S&P and Nasdaq. Amazon was up 0.3 per cent at $998.26, after briefly crossing the $1,000 mark.
Alphabet's class A shares were close behind, after hitting a record of $997.62. CardConnect's shares jumped 10.3 per cent to $15.05 after First Data agreed to buy the payment processor for $750 million. First Data was up 0.8 per cent.
– (Additional reporting: Bloomberg/Reuters)