Markets across globe close fairly flat

Markets across the world closed fairly flat yesterday, despite better than expected retail sales data in the US.

There was little movement on the ISEQ Index yesterday, with the Irish market giving up just 0.1 per cent to close down at 3,968.76.

Index-heavyweight CRH nudged up slightly on the day, adding 0.7 per cent or 12 cent to close up at €16.31. Grafton Group also edged up, adding 2 per cent or 11 cent to advance to €5.61.

Smurfit Kappa enjoyed another good day. As one broker noted: "it was in the doldrums two weeks ago but is now trading very strongly". It added 1.3 per cent, or 17 cent, to climb to €12.70. Reaching a new high was Glanbia . It added 0.7 per cent, or 8 cent, to finish the day up at €11.00, in what has been a remarkable year for the agribusiness stock.

Ahead of its trading update today, Paddy Power added 0.4 per cent, or 27 cent, to finish up at €67.95.

UK stocks were little changed yesterday as better-than-forecast US retail sales offset declines in Standard Chartered and Lloyds Banking Group.

The FTSE 100 Index gained 6.78 points, or 0.1 per cent, to 6,631.76 at the close in London, its highest level since October 2007. The equity benchmark has risen for eight days, its longest advancing streak since July 2011. Standard Chartered slipped 1.9 per cent to 1,552.5 pence as Carson Block, the short seller who runs Muddy Waters, said he's betting against the lender's debt due to deteriorating loan quality.

Lloyds lost 1.4 per cent to 58.09 pence with chairman Win Bischoff set to retire before May 2014.

International Consolidated Airlines Group , the parent of British Airways, retreated 1.9 per cent to 270.7 pence amid concern that a new viral outbreak could disrupt travel.

Following its transition from the Irish Stock Exchange last week, DCC continues to perform well in its new London home, with brokers noting good volume in the stock. Ahead of its full-year results today it closed up 0.5 per cent at 2530 pence.

European stocks declined from the highest level in almost five years as bank and airline shares retreated.

The Stoxx Europe 600 Index slipped 0.2 per cent to 304.35, snapping four days of gains. The measure has climbed 8.8 per cent in 2013. France's CAC 40 slid 0.3 per cent, while Germany's DAX was little changed.

"We still expect the US economy to hit a soft patch in the second quarter, but today's numbers – together with the recent labour-market news – confirms that the underlying recovery is robust," Witold Bahrke, senior strategist at PFA Pension A/S in Copenhagen, said.

Commerzbank slid 5 per cent to € 9.91, the biggest drop since March 14th. Germany's second-largest bank will sell new shares a part of a €2.5 billion capital increase, it was reported. Air France led airlines lower, falling 4.3 per cent to €7.27, while Deutsche Lufthansa slid 2.3 per cent to €15.72. France reported its second confirmed coronavirus-related infection yesterday and Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Health said the pathogen has killed 15 people in the Middle Eastern country since September. The virus is related to the one that caused SARS a decade ago.

US stocks fluctuated between gains and losses, after benchmark indexes climbed to record levels last week, as government data showed retail sales unexpectedly rose in April.

Corning climbed 1.2 per cent as analysts raised their recommendation for the shares. Theravance jumped 15 per cent to $40.01 after Elan agreed to buy a share of drug royalties that Theravance will receive from GlaxoSmithKline. The Irish drugmaker will receive 21 per cent of royalties earned by Theravance on four respiratory drugs, and 20 per cent of that income will be paid to Elan shareholders as a dividend.