Dublin's Iseq, one of the laggards across European stock market indices in 2018, stood out as a rare bright spot on Wednesday amid hopes that British prime minister Theresa May was on the cusp of a Brexit deal breakthrough.
The Iseq ended the session up 0.9 per cent at 6,194.44 as Ms May remained locked in discussions with her cabinet on the text of a draft Brexit agreement reached between UK and EU officials the previous day.
However, the pan-European Stoxx index closed 0.6 per cent lower at 362.27.
Brexit-sensitive stocks were in demand, with Kingspan advancing 2.8 per cent to €43.60 and Bank of Ireland gaining 1.7 per cent to €6.47, while Origin Enterprises moved 1.2 per cent higher to €6.01.
Paddy Power Betfair jumped almost 5 per cent to €80.43, as the UK government pressed ahead with new rules for betting machines that could cost the Irish company up to £46 million (€52.8 million) a year. Analysts said that the move removes uncertainty and allows gambling companies to move on.
Smurfit Kappa gained 4.1 per cent to €26.66, recovering some of the ground the paper packaging group lost recently as investors turned more cautious on the industry.
Bucking the trend, CRH dipped 0.8 per cent to €25.76, as Exane BNP Paribas analysts downgraded their rating on the building materials giant's shares to 'neutral' from 'outperform'.
Britain’s top stock index fell as mining shares and oil majors sold off amid growing anxiety that global growth was slowing, though a late rally in gambling stocks offset some of the slide.
The FTSE 100 ended 0.3 per cent lower after a choppy day, with investors navigating a commodities selloff and nerves over Brexit as Ms May tried to persuade her cabinet to back her draft EU divorce plan.
Rio Tinto, BHP Billiton, and Evraz fell 2.4-3.5 per cent as metals slipped on weak China retail sales data. Glencore, Anglo American, and Antofagasta fell around 1 percent.
Oil majors BP and Shell also declined after crude prices plunged 7 per cent on Tuesday. Oil rebounded slightly on Wednesday but not enough to drive the stocks up.
Debenhams shares sank 21 per cent, their biggest ever one-day fall, after a Drapers report said some high street suppliers have stopped working with the department store chain.
Italy’s decision to stick to its growth and deficit plans in its re-submitted draft budget set the stage for a showdown with the EU over breaking structural deficit limits. It drove government bond yields up and sent Italy’s FTSE MIB down 0.8 percent as bank stocks fell 1.4 percent.
Dutch payments firm Adyen’s shares lost 9.5 per cent as traders said the stock had been left out of an MSCI index re-weighting, and was also being dragged down by Wirecard which fell after results.
French phone company and part owner of Eir, Iliad, saw its shares rise 9.6 per cent after results showed good performance in the company's Italian unit, though overall it lost subscribers.
US stocks headed for a fifth straight decline in early afternoon trading, with Apple leading a drop in technology shares amid renewed anxiety over trade relations with Canada and Mexico.
Apple’s shares fell, extending its losses for the fifth straight day. A raft of profit warnings from the group’s maker’s suppliers has fuelled investor concerns that iPhone sales, in terms of volume, have hit a wall.
Utility group PG&E Corp slumped on warnings it could face "significant liability" in excess of its insurance coverage in the event that its equipment was found to have caused the blaze in California.
Snap Inc fell after Reuters reported that US regulators have subpoenaed the social media app maker for information about its March 2017 initial public offering.
- Additional reporting, Reuters, Bloomberg