Iseq finishes up on the back of strong performers Dalata and Cairn

Financials drag European shares lower as ECB meeting nears

Wait-and-see element ahead of Thursday’s meeting of the ECB, headed by Mario Draghi. Photograph: Getty

European stocks inched lower on Tuesday as investors hovered in the cautious zone between outright confidence and a sell-off.

The main drag came from losses in the heavyweight financial sector as worries over North Korea persisted, while there was a wait-and-see element ahead of Thursday's meeting of the European Central Bank.

The ECB is expected to announce the end of its €2 trillion-plus bond-buying scheme later this year, even though concern among policymakers over a strong euro has boosted expectations the stimulus will not be withdrawn quickly.


The Iseq finished up slightly, adding 0.2 per cent to the previous day's close. Ryanair advanced 0.8 per cent to €18.16 as the airline reported 10 per cent growth in its August passenger numbers to 12.7 million and a load factor that rose by 1 percentage point to 97 per cent.


Dalata Hotel Group soared 7.7 per cent to €5.40 after publishing half-year results that showed a 24 per cent rise in revenues. Cairn Homes, which also released interim results, climbed 1.2 per cent to €1.74 as it reported a positive outlook.

Food group Glanbia rose 2.6 per cent to €15.90, while Paddy Power Betfair advanced 2.2 per cent to €77.68. The bookmaker was also one of the top risers on the FTSE 100 in London.

However, building materials group CRH, the largest stock on the index, fell 0.8 per cent to €29.59, and Bank of Ireland dropped 2.3 per cent to €6.79.


Britain’s top share index slipped as financials fell amid lingering jitters over the North Korean crisis. The blue-chip FTSE 100 ended down 0.52 per cent, with financials taking most points off the index.

Mid caps however rose 0.15 per cent as a tie-up announced between Schneider Electric and Aveva sent shares in the British group up 25.7 per cent, their biggest one-day gain in more than two years.

Provident, which plummeted 57 per cent this month after a profit warning, was the biggest FTSE loser, down 6.5 per cent.

Elsewhere among financials, HSBC, Barclays, Standard Chartered and Lloyds all ended in the red with losses of between 0.4 and 1.5 per cent.

Shares in precious metals miner Fresnillo, which posted the best performance on Monday, surrendered some of its previous gains with a 2.1 per cent retreat. Randgold Resources ended up 0.1 per cent.

Strong sales helped car accessories and bicycles chain Halfords shares rise 2.5 per cent after it reported a 3.5 per cent rise in like-for-like retail sales in the 20 weeks to August 18th.


The pan-European Stoxx Europe 600 Index dipped 0.1 per cent, while Germany’s Dax climbed 0.2 per cent and in France, the Cac 40 ended 0.3 per cent lower.

Shares in Banco Santander, BNP Paribas, UniCredit and Deutsche Bank were all down between 1.7 and 1.9 per cent.

In spite of the weakness analysts at some big investment banks were upbeat. UBS strategists upgraded European banks to overweight from neutral as they expect cyclical sectors to get a boost when the ECB eventually scales back its stimulus.

A survey showing that euro zone business activity remained strong in August was the latest evidence that the recovery is maintaining its pace.

Energy stocks were among the top-gaining sectors, as oil prices rebounded. Health stocks also rose, led by Germany's Merck, which finished 2.4 per cent higher after it said it was considering selling its consumer health business.


The three major Wall Street indexes fell more than 1 per cent in early trading and were on track to mark their worst single-day fall in nearly three weeks, weighed down by mounting tensions on the Korean peninsula.

The S&P 500 was pulled lower by a more than 2 per cent fall in shares of JPMorgan and Bank of America.

Shares of United Technologies were down 4.49 per cent after Boeing said on Tuesday it would look closely at United's $23 billion buy of Rockwell Collins. Boeing was down 1.2 per cent and Rockwell inched up 0.5 per cent.

(Additional reporting: Bloomberg / Reuters)