Irish stocks close quarter on a brighter note

World equities edge higher as Chinese data prompts positivity among investors

Photograph: AFP

Photograph: AFP

 

Dublin’s Iseq index and wider European equities markets rose on Tuesday as investors took hope from news that China, ground zero of the coronavirus pandemic, had seen a stronger than expected rebound in manufacturing in March.

The Iseq closed 4.25 per cent higher, while the pan-European Stoxx 600 index edged 1.65 per cent higher on the day, climbing for the fourth time in five sessions amid investor debate over whether there’s ground for a sustained rally given the continued spread of the coronavirus.

US stock markets steadied on Tuesday at the end of the worst first quarter for the S&P 500 since 1938 amid growing evidence of the largescale damage caused by the collapse in oil prices and business activity due to the coronavirus.

Real estate stocks, utilities and consumer staples - commonly considered defensives - led declines following a rebound sparked by bargain hunters looking for stocks likely to weather an economic slump.

Closer to home, the World Health Organization said there are signs of some stabilisation in Europe’s coronavirus outbreak as much of the continent remained in lockdown. Meanwhile in China, the official purchasing managers’ index rose to 52.0 this month. That’s up from a record low of 35.7 in February and above the 50 mark which signals improving conditions.

Still, China’s bureau of statistics cautioned that the single-month data didn’t necessarily mean that economy has returned to normal level amid continuing coronavirus concerns.

Worst quarter

Banking stocks had a mixed day in Dublin, with AIB up 1.09 per cent and Bank of Ireland closing off 3.85 per cent. Flutter Entertainment jumped almost 12 per cent while insulation group Kingspan added 5.87 per cent.

Equities worldwide are on track to round out their worst quarter since 2008 while investors grapple with the economic impact of a pandemic that’s still poorly understood.

Meanwhile, oil prices firmed on Tuesday after US president Donald Trump and Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin agreed to talks aimed at stabilising energy markets. – Additional reporting, Reuters