Iseq stalls as the UK and US look to earnings season

International markets look ahead to upcoming batch of corporate earnings

Most European and US markets were ahead yesterday, with the S&P 500 Index at a four-month high, as investors shook off oil’s losses on failed output talks and looked toward this week’s clutch of corporate earnings.

The Iseq in Dublin, however, slipped marginally, following weak performances from some of its flagship stocks.


A lack of corporate news helped keep trading volumes low, on a day when the Iseq’s big guns had mixed fortunes.

Smurfit Kappa


(down almost 1 per cent),

Paddy Power

Betfair (down 0.6 per cent),


(down 0.5 per cent) and a marginal drop in


, all helped to keep the market the wrong side of even.

Dalata, the hotel company run by Pat McCann, rose by almost 1 per cent after the group announced a development contract for a 206-bedroom Maldron hotel in central Belfast.

Kingspan, the Cavan insulation and building materials company, was one of the market's best performers, closing the day up more than 3 per cent, with €43 million of stock changing hands. Sentiment around the company appears to be picking up ahead of an update from management next month.


Reckitt Benckiser added 2 per cent after reporting first-quarter revenue growth that met analysts’ estimates, boosted by sales of Durex condoms and Strepsils throat lozenges.

The UK mining index rose 1.4 per cent as copper prices rose, reversing earlier losses, as funds bought metals on the back of a weaker dollar. A lower US currency makes dollar-denominated metals cheaper for non-US firms. Anglo American, BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto rose 1.7 to 2.3 per cent.

Travel and leisure stocks were in demand, helped by weaker oil prices. Broker Berenberg upgraded TUI to "buy" from "hold", sending its shares 2.3 per cent higher, while mid- cap Thomas Cook gained nearly 0.7 per cent. Shares in Energy Assets Group soared about 40 per cent on the back of a $280 million takeover from Alinda Capital Partners. Sprue Aegis sank 54 per cent after the safety products supplier issued a profit warning. Britain's largest energy supplier Centrica, which owns Bord Gáis Energy, was down 1.6 per cent after it said it had lost more customers in the first quarter.


The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index touched its lowest intraday level since last Wednesday, before turning higher to trade up 0.4 per cent by the close, following US shares up in afternoon trade.

The index remains over 13 per cent off lows hit in February, after concerns over a slump in oil prices and China’s growth knocked European stocks back nearly 20 per cent early in the year.

Auto stocks rose 1.5 per cent and the top sectoral gainer, BMW, was up 2.6 per cent, after Goldman Sachs upgraded its rating on the stock to "buy" from "sell". Daimler also performed strongly.

Spain’s Caixabank tumbled 3 per cent after it said it was making a fresh takeover offer worth around $1 billion for the 56 per cent of Portuguese lender Banco BPI that it does not already own.

Italy's Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena and Unione di Banche Italiane paced a recovery in banking stocks with gains of at least 5 per cent.


The Dow Jones industrial average climbed to a nine-month high yesterday, in a market buoyed by


and Disney, as investors braced for a flurry of quarterly earnings reports.

Chevron added 1.51 per cent as crude oil prices steadied from earlier losses caused by the collapse of talks among major producers to tackle a stubborn global surplus.

A recent rebound in oil and signs the US economy is slowly improving have helped stocks rally. The Dow breached 18,000 for the first time since July 21st. It rose 0.6 per cent to end the day at 18,004.16 points.

– (Additional reporting Bloomberg/Reuters)

Mark Paul

Mark Paul

Mark Paul is London Correspondent for The Irish Times