Iseq advances as wider European market closes flat

Banks edge upwards and Applegreen also in demand


European stocks ended Wednesday’s session unchanged compared to the previous day as the euro rose as comments from the European Central Bank’s (ECB) chief economist suggested the institution is ready to discuss the end to its stimulus programme.

ECB chief economist said that robust growth was making the central bank increasingly confident that inflation is on its way back to target of near 2 per cent, raising the likelihood it may use a meeting next week to reveal more about the end of its €2.6 trillion bond-buying program.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index ended the day unchanged with bourses closing in different directions across the continent.



The Iseq edged 0.2 per cent higher to 7,177.08, with banking stocks among the top performers.

AIB added 1.20 per cent to €4.91, while Bank of Ireland gained 1 per cent to €7.375 million, helped by fresh market chatter that the Government may seek to sell down its stakes in both banks in the second half of this year.

Applegreen was also in demand, rising 0.6 per cent to €6.30, as the fuel forecourt retailer said it had a positive start to the year.

Kingspan added 0.9 per cent to €40 after North American peer NCI Building Systems released a strong set of quarterly results. The Americas currently represents about 16 per cent of the Irish company's sales.


Gains among mining stocks on stronger metal prices helped British shares outperform a sluggish European equity market, while packaging firm RPC sold off sharply after updating investors on its spending plans.

The commodity-heavy FTSE 100 index rose 0.3 per cent and mid caps climbed 0.6 per cent. The pan-European STOXX 600 index ended flat.

Miners provided the biggest uplift to the FTSE as base metal prices rose, with copper and lead gaining ground on prospects of a supply squeeze.

Anglo American, Rio Tinto and Antofagasta all rose more than 3 per cent, while BHP Billiton gained 2.5 per cent on reports the Anglo-Australian miner had received first bids for its US shale business.

Among mid-caps, RPC tumbled 11.9 per cent after the plastic packager announced an increase in investments to take advantage of strong demand in China. Analysts said the investment plans had dented the firm’s cash flow figures.


Germany’s DAX gained 0.3 per cent, while Paris’ CAC 40 dipped 0.1 per cent, with the rise of the euro to a 10-day high weighing on European companies which have large revenues in dollars.

Consumer groups L'Oreal, Unilever and Imperial Brands were the worst performers among blue chips, losing between 2 per cent and 2.5 per cent.

Insurance stocks across Europe and the UK also fell following a report that US Internet giant Amazon was considering extending its empire to offer home insurance.

Banking stocks, which typically benefit from higher interest rates, rose 0.7 per cent with Italian lenders recovering further from political instability in the country.

Commodities stocks rose close to 2 percent due to strong copper prices while the recent rally in tech stocks continued its course, adding 0.2 percent.


Wall Street’s tech-heavy Nasdaq index was on track for its fourth straight day of gains in early afternoon trading on Wednesday, hitting a record high, while the S&P 500 and the Dow also inched higher.

Tesla shares jumped after billionaire chief executive Elon Musk reassured shareholders that building 5,000 of its mass-market Model 3 cars per week by the end of June was "quite likely".

However, Facebook fell after the social networking company confirmed it had collaborated with at least four Chinese companies over sharing certain user data.

Troubled by the Facebook privacy scandal, worries over chipmakers and iPhone sales, as well as a generally shakier tone to stock markets since February, technology stocks have been back on a tear since the start of May.

"Investors are eager to find areas of the market in which there are still prospects of above-average revenue and earnings growth given that we are in the ninth year of economic cycle," said Scott Clemons, chief investment strategist for Brown Brothers Harriman in New York.

“Investors are focused on areas where potential is still there with technology being one of them.”

- Additional reporting, Reuters

Joe Brennan

Joe Brennan

Joe Brennan is Markets Correspondent of The Irish Times