Rally extends after IMF talks up US growth prospects

Apple and chipmaker Arm Holdings rise following China Mobile iPhone deal

IMF managing director Christine Lagarde said falling unemployment and the bipartisan agreement over next year’s budget “gives us a much stronger outlook for 2014, which brings us to raising our forecast”. Photograph: SeongJoon Cho/Bloomberg

IMF managing director Christine Lagarde said falling unemployment and the bipartisan agreement over next year’s budget “gives us a much stronger outlook for 2014, which brings us to raising our forecast”. Photograph: SeongJoon Cho/Bloomberg

 


European stocks continued to indulge in their bullish pre- Christmas mood, advancing for a fourth consecutive day and the biggest four-day rally since April, after the International Monetary Fund said it would raise its economic growth outlook for the US in 2014.

IMF managing director Christine Lagarde said in an interview broadcast on NBC’s Meet the Press show that falling unemployment and the bipartisan agreement over next year’s budget “gives us a much stronger outlook for 2014, which brings us to raising our forecast”.

While Ms Lagarde didn’t set out any new forecasts in the interview, the Washington-based fund typically issues revised projections in January.

Trading volumes were lighter than average, as market participants began to drift off for the Christmas break.

DUBLIN
The Iseq index declined less than 1 per cent, with few stocks experiencing much of a gain or loss. Building materials group CRH, the largest stock on the index, closed down 0.1 per cent at €18.16, while Ryanair rose 0.7 per cent to €6.24 and Bank of Ireland was flat at 26 cent.

Independent News & Media climbed almost 5 per cent to 11 cent after the company confirmed that it had completed its restructuring, issuing new shares to lenders and reducing core debt to about €118 million.

There were gains for Aer Lingus, which rose 1.8 per cent to €1.28, and drinks group C&C, which advanced 0.7 per cent to €4.21. Paper and packaging group Smurfit Kappa was among the fallers, closing down 0.8 per cent. The Green REIT, a listed property investment vehicle, fell 1.1 per cent to €1.38.

The Irish market is open on Christmas Eve for a half day, closing at 1.15pm. It will then reopen on Friday.

LONDON
UK stocks rose for a fourth day. The FTSE 100 Index added 72.03 points, or 1.1 per cent, at the close in London, its longest winning streak since October.

Arm Holdings climbed 3.9 per cent to 1,110 pence after Apple, which uses Arm’s chip designs in its smartphones, struck a deal for China Mobile to sell the iPhone to its 763 million existing users. The gain extended the stock’s rally this year to 45 per cent.

Merlin Entertainments slipped 1.2 per cent to 361.7 pence after a fire at the Chessington World of Adventures Resort southwest of London forced the company to close the theme park. Premier Foods fell 3.8 per cent to 125.5 pence. The maker of Bird’s custard and Angel Delight said its bank debt and revolving credit facilities remain in place until mid-2016 and that it has yet to make a decision on the outcome of its strategic review.

EUROPE
National benchmark indexes advanced in 14 of the 18 western-European markets, with France’s CAC 40 adding 0.5 per cent and Germany’s DAX rising 0.9 per cent. The Stoxx Europe 600 Index climbed 0.7 per cent to 323.40 at the close of trading, as the gauge headed for its biggest annual jump since 2009.

Lanxess rose 4.4 per cent to €47.74 after its chief executive Axel Heitmann said the chemical maker will reach its full-year earnings forecast. Orell Fuessli fell 2.2 per cent to 88 Swiss francs after predicting “clearly negative” earnings for 2013. It cited special charges at its security-printing unit, which produces Switzerland’s banknotes.

Banco Comercial Portugues advanced 5.5 per cent to 17.1 euro cents and Banco Espirito Santo climbed 5.4 per cent to €1.07 for the biggest gains in the Stoxx 600.

US
Stocks jumped in early trading, with the Dow and S&P 500 advancing to all-time highs as Apple surged on a distribution deal with China Mobile and lifted the technology sector. Shares of Apple shot up 3.4 per cent to $567.88. The stock’s massive market capitalisation helped lift the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq. Facebook, which rose 5.3 per cent to $58.02, also helped bolster the Nasdaq and the S&P 500.– (Additional reporting: Bloomberg / Reuters)