Iseq still in black as European peers struggle on lockdown fears

US investors pivot from tech giants and back towards stocks likely to rise post-pandemic

CRH rose 1.5 per cent to €37.92, as the Iseq heavyweight traded well a day after it named Jim Mintern as its new finance chief. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

European stocks were subdued on Wednesday, as concerns about new lockdown measures overshadowed a surprise return to economic growth for the euro zone in March.

US stocks traded mixed as investors rotated to stocks set to benefit from economic reopening and away from the tech names that thrived during the pandemic.


The Iseq index rose by 0.4 per cent, outperforming many of its European peers.

Ryanair finished the session up 4.8 per cent to €16.26 per share. The airline announced on Wednesday that it will run 80 per cent of its normal schedule this summer.


Dalata hotel group closed down 1.6 per cent to €4.34, as the future continues to look difficult for hospitality businesses. It also lost out to rival Tifco on the State contract for mandatory hotel quarantine.

CRH rose 1.5 per cent to €37.92, as the Iseq heavyweight traded well a day after it named Jim Mintern as its new finance chief.


Energy and mining stocks lifted UK shares as data showed a better-than-expected rebound in British business activity in March.

The blue-chip FTSE 100 index recouped early losses to end 0.2 per cent higher, with mining stocks including Rio Tinto, Anglo American and BHP Group gaining between 0.5 per cent and 2.3 per cent. Oil heavyweights BP and Royal Dutch Shell gained 2.0 per cent and 1.9 per cent, respectively, helped by a jump in crude prices.

Holiday company TUI jumped 6.7 per cent as it said it would shut 48 retail stores across Britain, adding to the 166 it had closed there during the Covid-19 pandemic.

FTSE 250 IT firm Softcat made major gains after it revealed that the pandemic helped to spark rises in profit and revenues in the second half of the year. The company said its gross profits increased by a fifth to £134.5 million after a 10 per cent increase in revenues to £577 million for the six months to January. Shares were 226p higher at 1,785p at the close of play.


After falling as much as 0.7 per cent earlier in the day, the pan-European STOXX 600 index ended flat.

The European stocks benchmark has pulled away from a one-year peak hit last week after major economies including Germany and France imposed new lockdowns.

Italian defence and aerospace group Leonardo fell 6.1 per cent after it postponed the initial public offering of its US electronics unit DRS.

Commerzbank rose 1.6 per cent even as Germany's number two lender said it expects a net loss for 2021.

Big gains for chipmakers helped limit market losses. Shares in ASM International, ASML and Infineon Technologies were up between 0.3 per cent and 5.2 per cent after US firm Intel announced a $20 billion plan to expand its advanced chip manufacturing capacity.

French supermarket retailer Carrefour rose 2.3 per cent after saying it had agreed to buy Brazil's third-biggest food retailer, Grupo Big, in a deal that values it at $1.3 billion.


Apple, Tesla and Facebook led decliners on the S&P 500. Intel retreated 1.2 per cent after earlier gains as the company, in its efforts to expand chipmaking capacity, announced plans to spend as much as $20 billion to build two factories in Arizona and open its factories to outside customers.

US-listed shares of Taiwan Semiconductor dropped 3.9 per cent, while semiconductor equipment makers Lam Research, Applied Materials and ASML Holding rose between 4 per cent and 6.5 per cent. Applied Materials was the biggest boost on the S&P 500.

Bitcoin gained 2.5 per cent after Tesla's founder, Elon Musk, said the company's electric vehicles can now be bought using bitcoin and the option will be available outside the United States later this year.

GameStop tumbled 22 per cent after the videogame retailer said it might cash in on a meteoric rise in its share price to fund its e-commerce expansion.

– Additional reporting: Reuters/Bloomberg/PA

Mark Paul

Mark Paul

Mark Paul is London Correspondent for The Irish Times