Markets move higher despite ongoing geopolitical uncertainty

Iseq boosted by banks and building stocks

European shares rallied on Friday to erase weekly losses, despite the prospect of aggressive global rate hikes and geopolitical uncertainty making investors wary.

The EU also adopted its fifth package of sanctions against Russia, including bans on the import of coal, wood, chemicals and other products.

DUBLIN

The Iseq closed 1.5 per cent higher, lifted by banking and building stocks, to close at 7080.53 on Friday evening.

AIB shares surged 4.2 per cent to close at €1.968, while Bank of Ireland gained 2.66 per cent, ending the day at €5.79. Permanent TSB was the outlier, closing almost 1 per cent lower on the day at €1.585.

Food group Kerry closed the day at €103.25, a 0.68 per cent increase.

Shares in building materials company CRH ended at €36.11, almost 4 per cent ahead on Thursday, while Kingspan was up 1 per cent to €86.36.

Airline Ryanair continued to bounce back, closing at €13.76, a 1.78 per cent gain on the day.

LONDON

The blue-chip Ftse 100 gained 1.6 per cent to touch its highest since February 11th, with oil majors BP, Shell and miner Anglo American rising 3.7-4.8 per cent.

AstraZeneca gained 2.5 per cent to hit a record high after Credit Suisse raised its price target on the drug maker's stock.

Ukraine-focused miner Ferrexpo jumped 10.8 per cent after it said it was able to sell most of the iron ore pellets produced in the first quarter.

Online trading platform CMC Markets climbed 12.8 per cent after its fourth-quarter trading update, while paper and packaging group Mondi slipped 0.9 per cent after Morgan Stanley downgraded the stock to "equal-weight".

EUROPE

The pan-European Stoxx 600 index added 1.3 per cent and ended the week about 0.5 per cent higher, with healthcare stocks firming the most on the week.

Topping the index was Banco BPM's 10.2 per cent surge, after French bank Credit Agricole said it has bought a 9.2 per cent stake in Italy's third-largest bank.

France’s Cac 40 index rose 1.3 per cent, but is down about 2 per cent this week – the most among European peers – on election uncertainty.

Among other stocks, Atlantia's rallied 8.7 per cent after a report that top shareholder Edizione and Blackstone could launch a bid for the Italian infrastructure group at €24 per share around Easter.

Telecom Italia slipped 0.9 per cent after it rejected a €10.8 billion offer from KKR.

In Russia, moves in the rouble remained jittery and trading volumes on the Moscow Exchange were below average, but the rouble has fully recovered to levels seen before Russian troops entered Ukraine. It is supported by Russia’s strong current account surplus amid high commodity prices as well as Russia’s capital controls, said Olga Belenkaya, head of macro research at Finam brokerage.

NEW YORK

The S&P 500 and the Dow rose in choppy trading on Friday, boosted by a jump in banking stocks at the end of a volatile week marked by concerns around aggressive moves by the US Federal Reserve to tame inflation.

Rate-sensitive lenders JPMorgan Chase & Co, Bank of America, Citigroup and Goldman Sachs gained 1.5-2.4 per cent in mid-day trading.

The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq were set to end the week lower, with the tech-heavy Nasdaq the worst hit after comments from Fed officials raised concerns about rapid rate hikes causing an economic slowdown.

Shares in Tesla, Nvidia and Alphabet fell 0.8-3 per cent, with the megacap stocks set to extend this week's decline as the surge in treasury yields weighed.

Robinhood Markets fell 6.5 per cent after a report said Goldman Sachs downgraded the online brokerage, while Kroger jumped 3 per cent on a ratings upgrade.

Ciara O'Brien

Ciara O'Brien

Ciara O'Brien is an Irish Times business and technology journalist

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