European stocks pared gains in the final minutes of trading yesterday as a fresh poll dampened investor optimism that the UK will vote to stay in the EU.
Still, markets remained broadly positive as bookmakers’ odds continued to indicate that Britons would vote to remain in the 28-nation bloc in today’s long-awaited poll.
The Stoxx 600 rose 0.4 per cent to 341.32 at the close of trading. The equity gauge trimmed gains of as much as 1 per cent after a new poll showed a slight lead for the Leave campaign.
While the vote appears too close to call, betting shops are placing the odds for Remain at about 78 per cent, according to Oddschecker data.
DUBLIN The Iseq index rose 0.6 per cent to 6,290.5 points, delivering a 6.6 per cent rally in the past week
With little corporate news, activity was dominated by Brexit sentiment. Among companies seen with most to gain from the UK remaining in the EU, Bank of Ireland added almost 2 per cent, to 25.7 cents, while Kingspan gained 1.8 per cent to €24.85 and IFG Group surged 5.4 per cent.
“It’s clear that betting odds are skewed towards Remain at the moment, which is the main data the market will be moving on until there is a clear outcome,” said Daniel Murray, head of research at EFG Asset Management in London. “The biggest risk is waking up on Friday to an uncertain result.”
Bucking the trend, Tony O'Reilly jnr-led Providence Resources slid 9.1 per cent in London as investors absorbed the oil and gas explorer's plans to raise $74 million to shore up its finances. A suspension on trading in the stock, imposed in mid-April, was lifted yesterday in both London and Dublin.
LONDON The FTSE 100 Index gained 0.6 per cent on the eve of the Brexit referendum, bringing its rally from last week's lows, when nervousness about the outcome of the vote was at its height, to more than 5 per cent.
RSA Insurance rose 2.1 per cent, leading a gauge of insurers to the best performance of the 19 industry groups on the Stoxx Europe 600 Index, after Barclays plc said the company was confident of meeting its 2018 targets and well placed in the event of a Brexit.
The UK mining index rose 1.1 per cent, as shares of Glencore, Anglo American and Rio Tinto all advanced 1.8 per cent.
Among other top gainers, housebuilders Taylor Wimpey, Persimmon, Berkeley Group and Barratt Developments rose between 1 per cent and 2 per cent.
On the downside, AB Foods fell 3.4 per cent, as Morgan Stanley cut its rating to equal weight, taking a more cautious view on valuation as it examined why Primark's like-for- like growth was slowing.
Among mid-caps, department store group Debenhams fell 4.6 per cent after posting a fall in third-quarter sales growth as trading conditions became more uncertain.
EUROPE Among stocks moving on corporate news, Spain's Merlin Properties Socimi SA gained 3.9 per cent after agreeing to a merger with Metrovacesa to create the largest property rental group in the country.
Belgium's Colruyt dragged a measure of retailers to among the worst performances on the Stoxx 600, tumbling 10 per cent after analysts at KBC cut their rating on the company to the equivalent of sell.
NEW YORK US stocks trimmed gains and were flat in early afternoon trading as investors took a wait- and- see stance ahead of the UK referendum.
Adding to the cautious tone, oil prices fell about 1 per cent after a smaller-than-expected weekly US inventory draw.
The Dow Jones industrial average was down 0.14 per cent, the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq Composite were unchanged.
Tesla Motors was down 9.2 per cent after the Elon Musk- owned electric car maker made an offer to buy his solar installation firm SolarCity in a deal worth up to $2.8 billion. SolarCity was up 5.4 per cent at $22.35.