Iseq climbs as European stocks tread water

Investors weigh mixed economic data and developments in Ukraine

Dublin’s stock market outperformed most of its European peers yesterday, with the Iseq climbing about 0.9 per cent.

Most European stocks treaded water while US stocks fell from near a record, as investors weighed mixed economic data and developments in Ukraine. Russia showed no signs of yielding in the Crimean standoff as Ukraine bolstered its defences.

Germany’s current account surplus came in higher than economists’ estimates, while data showed UK factory production rose more than forecast.

Benchmark indexes rose in 11 of the 18 markets in western Europe. Germany's DAX climbed 0.5 per cent. The UK's FTSE 100 lost less than 0.1 per cent and France's CAC 40 slid 0.5 per cent.

DUBLIN
Fyffes fell back by 4.62 per cent yesterday to close at €1.24, as some investors took their profits following the news on Monday that it is to merge with its US rival Chiquita in a $1.1 billion deal. The share, which has more than doubled in 12 months, roared ahead by 46 per cent in the wake of the announcement.

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CRH , the building materials behemoth, advanced 0.17 per cent to close at €20.47. Much of the activity around the stock was prompted by a read through from the results of its peers Vicat and Geberit, which was particularly cautious on the prospects this year for the industry in Europe.

Glanbia slipped by 0.14 per cent to €10.98, ahead of the release today of its annual results. Earnings per share are expected to increase by 8 per cent. Its international ingredients businesses are expected to have performed strongly but there will be no succour for its plodding Irish operations, analysts said.

LONDON
Barclays sank 2.4 per cent to 236.2 pence for its biggest two- day loss in almost a month. Shares fell yesterday as a report named it among banks that will have to set aside a total of as much as €10.6 billion in additional costs and fines related to currency-manipulation probes. Royal Bank of Scotland Group , also listed as facing the costs, lost 3 per cent to 310.2 pence.

Close Brothers Group rose 2.1 per cent to 1,470 pence. The 135-year-old British financial services company increased its interim dividend to 16.5 pence.

Inchcape advanced 4.2 per cent to 640.5 pence. The UK vehicle distributor said pretax profit before exceptional items was £274.6 million in 2013, exceeding the average analyst estimate of £271.1 million.

EUROPE
Volkswagen , Europe's largest automaker, gained 1.3 per cent to €181.25. Audi sold 242,400 vehicles in the first two months of the year, 383 more than the BMW namesake brand, according to data from the German automakers.

Hannover Re fell 1.3 per cent to €59.94. The reinsurer said earnings before interest and taxes dropped to €243.3 million in the final three months of 2013 because of weakness in life and health reinsurance.

UniCredit jumped 6.2 percent to €6.42, the biggest gain since September 2012. The bank, which posted results yesterday, said it will cut jobs and sell assets as part of a five-year plan to strengthen its finances.

NEW YORK
Urban Outfitters slipped 4.9 per cent to $35.67. Chief executive Richard Hayne said he expects poor weather to contribute to lower sales and profit margins in the first quarter for its Urban Outfitters-branded shops.

General Motors fell 3 per cent to $35.99. The House Energy and Commerce Committee will investigate the response of the carmaker and US regulators to consumer complaints about ignition-switch failures that led to the recall of 1.6 million vehicles and are linked to at least 13 deaths.

McDonald's increased 3.4 per cent to $98.46. Chief financial officer Pete Bensen said the world's largest restaurant chain was looking at ways to optimise capital structure, while maintaining long-term financial strength.

Mark Paul

Mark Paul

Mark Paul is Business Affairs Correspondent of The Irish Times. He also writes the Caveat column