European stocks slipped from record highs on Monday in subdued trading due to holidays in the United States and the UK, but optimism over a swift economic recovery helped the Stoxx 600 index mark its fourth straight month of gains. The Iseq index in Dublin fell 0.6 per cent on very thin trading volumes.
The dearth of share traders active on international markets made for an exceedingly quiet day on the Irish stock exchange.
Most of Ireland's indigenous listed multinationals were muted due to the lack of action. CRH, the building materials giant that is heavily reliant on the US market, finished the session down almost 0.9 per cent to €42.57, amid continuing political wrangling in Washington, DC, between democrats and Republicans over US president Joe Biden's infrastructure plan.
The Irish company would stand to gain heavily from any extra US spending on bridges and roads. Another Irish potential beneficiary of a US building drive, insulation group Kingspan, fell 1.6 per cent to €76.86.
Other Irish multinationals around which activity was hit because of the lack of US traders included Smurfit Kappa Group, which was down 0.25 per cent to €43.47, and Glanbia, which was almost flat at €13.30.
Bank of Ireland slipped 1.4 per cent to close out the session at €5.24 per share. It held steady for much of the day but its price dropped following a flurry of trades before close.
There were contrasting fortunes for travel stocks, amid calls by the European Union for states to adopt a "green certificate" for intra-bloc travel by the beginning of June. Ireland is expected to delay it until the middle of that month.
The Dermot Desmond-backed Datalex group, which makes retail software for airlines, rose by 6.8 per cent to 47 cents per share.
Ryanair held steady at €16.87 per share, but one of its rivals in the Irish market, the Irish Ferries owner Irish Continental Group, fell by more than 1.1 per cent to €4.40. ICG tends to dip slightly when sentiment improves towards airlines.
The pan-European Stoxx 600 index was down 0.5 per cent, with shares in Frankfurt and Paris dropping 0.6 per cent each. With UK and US markets closed for holidays, trading volumes were muted across the board.
Among the top decliners was Deutsche Bank, down 1.3 per cent after the Wall Street Journal reported that the US Federal Reserve told the German lender it was failing to address persistent shortcomings in its anti-money-laundering controls.
Italian insurer Cattolica surged 15.1 per cent after bigger rival Assicurazioni Generali said it would launch a €1.17 billion-euro buyout offer for the company.
The utilities sector dragged the Stoxx Europe 600 index lower as Spain's Endesa declined following reports that the Spanish government is preparing to rein in windfall profits for power producers.
Among other movers, Swedish online property listings firm Hemnet rose 2.7 per cent after posting a 24 per cent jump in quarterly sales, helped by demand for large apartments and houses.
Despite lingering worries about rising inflation, the Stoxx 600 posted a 2.1 per cent rise in May as economies gradually reopened after lockdowns and central banks reiterated support to aid the recovery.
Dovish comments from European Central Bank policymakers, including president Christine Lagarde who said it was too early to discuss slowing its pandemic emergency bond purchases, helped support sentiment last week.
The euro gained after data showed Germany’s inflation rate rose to the highest level since October 2018, while price pick-ups in May were also reported by Spain and Italy.
Crude oil climbed as the market focused on an OPEC+ supply policy meeting early this week, while gold headed for the biggest monthly advance since July and most industrial metals gained. – (Additional reporting: Reuters and Bloomberg)