Iseq outpaces flat European peers as investors await policy news from US Fed

European bank stocks rise on positive trading updates

European stocks ended flat on Wednesday as optimism over a swathe of positive bank earnings was offset by caution setting in before the US Federal Reserve’s policy decision. The Dow and Nasdaq fell in New York.


The Iseq index rose 0.5 per cent, ahead of many of its continental peers. Bank of Ireland was preferred over AIB, as European banks surged on strong corporate news. Bank of Ireland finished the session ahead by almost 2.8 per cent to €4.80, but AIB slipped back 1.2 per cent to €2.45.

CRH rose 1.2 per cent to €39.85 per share. The building materials group released a trading statement showing sales ahead by 3 per cent in the first quarter.

Dalata hotel group rose 2.3 per cent to €4.67, a day ahead of its agm and with State restrictions set to be lifted on its sector.


The Ftse 100 climbed, lifted by energy shares and a slew of upbeat earnings updates from companies including Lloyds Banking Group and WPP. The blue-chip index rose 0.3 per cent, with oil heavyweights BP and Royal Dutch Shell providing the biggest boost as oil prices firmed.

WPP rose 2.8 per cent after the world's biggest advertising company said its underlying net sales returned to growth as clients started to spend to prepare for the global economic recovery.

Lloyds added 3.5 per cent after Britain’s biggest domestic bank reported upbeat profit for the first three months of the year. The wider banking index added 1.4 per cent, rising for the fifth straight session.

The domestically focused mid-cap Ftse 250 index ended nearly flat. Reckitt Benckiser dropped about 4 per cent as a weak flu season saw fewer people reach for cold remedies and declining birth rates hit sales of baby formula products. Still, the company posted better-than-expected quarterly sales.


The pan-European Stoxx 600 index ended largely unchanged, with bank stocks leading gains among the regional sectors. The subindex ended 1.5 per cent higher.

Deutsche Bank jumped 10.7 per cent to the top of the Stoxx 600, as strength at its investment bank helped the German lender post a better-than-expected first-quarter net profit. Spanish bank Santander rose 2.7 per cent after it beat first-quarter forecasts with its profit, while not adding to provisions for the pandemic and booking record US earnings.

Italian energy service group Saipem fell 5.1 per cent after it missed quarterly profit estimates and flagged uncertainty over a Mozambique project.

German food delivery company Delivery Hero surged 9.4 per cent after it forecast revenues to more than double in 2021.


Before falling back later in the session, the S&P 500 touched an all-time high, powered by shares of Google parent Alphabet, which jumped 3.7 per cent after reporting a record profit for the second consecutive quarter and announcing a $50 billion share buyback.

Market participants were prepping for results of Apple and Facebook after markets closed. Facebook was expected to report a rise in first-quarter revenue, while Apple was expected to post a more than 32 per cent jump in second-quarter revenue. Shares of Facebook rose 1.4 per cent, while Apple dipped 0.2 per cent.

Microsoft met quarterly sales expectations and beat profit estimates late on Wednesday, but its shares fell 3.3 per cent and pressured the Nasdaq due to scepticism about one-off benefits included in the results and high hopes after a year-long rally.

Biotech Amgen's 7.5 per cent decline weighed on the Dow after it said its first-quarter sales and profit fell due to a 7 per cent drop in its net drug prices and a hit from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Boeing fell 3.4 per cent after posting a wider-than-expected quarterly loss and pausing 737 Max deliveries over an electrical issue that has partly grounded the fleet once again.

Mark Paul

Mark Paul

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