Renewed Greek worries depress markets

Concerns about reduced stimulus from central banks weigh on markets


Markets across Europe closed on the back foot as concerns about European finances were back in the spotlight yesterday. The markets sold off amid renewed worries about Greece’s finances after the country’s public broadcaster was abruptly closed and continued fears that central banks may scale back their stimulus efforts.

The Iseq closed lower, in line with its European counterparts, down 26.5 points, or 0.7 per cent to 3,800.6 points.

Building supplies group CRH lost 1.9 per cent, to €15.17 as analysts at Morgan Stanley issued a note warning that companies in the sector with a high exposure to emerging markets could be impacted by slower growth. Shares fell although the group has less exposure than a number of its counterparts.

Drug firm Elan fell 3.45 per cent, to €9.80, as a former board member, Jack Schuler, questioned the experience of the drug company’s management amid ongoing buy out attempts by Royalty Pharma.

Ryanair closed slightly lower, down 0.27 per cent to €6.71, following a share buyback deal when the group bought one million shares on Tuesday.

Shares in beverage producer C&C increased 0.68 per cent, to €4.44, as its US peer Boston Beer was upgraded by analysts at Goldman Sachs. The Irish group purchased US group Vermont Hard Cider last year.

Despite a weaker performance yesterday Irish stocks are climbing three times faster than equities in Spain, Italy, Greece and Portugal as the nation could become the first country to exit a European Union-led bailout, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The Iseq index has more than doubled from a 13-year low in March 2009 and Smurfit Kappa has led gains with a jump of 889 per cent.

UK stocks declined to the lowest level in more than seven weeks. The FTSE 100 Index dropped 40.63 points, or 0.6 per cent, to 6,299.45 at the close in London, the lowest level since April 22nd. The equity benchmark has lost 7.9 per cent since US Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke said that the central bank may scale back stimulus if the US economy improves sustainably at the end of May.

Severn Trent slid the most in more than 6 years as a consortium abandoned an offer for the water utility. Shares fell 9.3 per cent to £17.56.

Vodafone fell 5.2 per cent, to 181 pence, after confirming it approached Kabel Deutschland about a takeover.

British Sky Broadcasting gained 1.9 per cent, to 792 pence after Banco Espirito Santo said it may get a new bid from News Corp.

European markets declined as concern grew that central banks may scale back stimulus measures and as Greek politicians wrangled over the closure of the nation’s broadcaster.

France’s CAC 40 retreated 0.4 per cent while Germany’s DAX lost 1 per cent. The volume of shares changing hands in Stoxx 600 companies was 5.5 per cent lower than the average of the last 30 days, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Societe Generale slid 2.5 per cent to €28.46 and Deutsche Bank declined 3.2 per cent to €34.40.

Kabel Deutschland jumped 8.2 per cent to €80.84, for the biggest advance on the Stoxx 600, after Vodafone, the world’s second-largest wireless carrier, confirmed it discussed acquiring the German cable operator to expand in the broadband and TV market. Kabel Deutschland Vodafone contacted Kabel Deutschland, which has a market value of about €7 billion to discuss an offer within the past week.

Inditex added 3.5 per cent to €101.30 after reporting a 5.2 per cent increase in first-quarter sales to €3.59 billion. The world’s biggest clothing retailer also forecast stable profitability even after first-quarter profit advanced at the slowest pace in four years.

US stocks fell, sending the Standard and Poor’s 500 Index to a third day of losses, as investors weighed prospects for economic growth and the pace of Federal Reserve stimulus measures.

The S&P 500 fell 0.4 per cent to 1,619.39 at lunchtime in New York, erasing a 0.7 per cent rally earlier. The Dow Jones Industrial Average declined 69.50 points, or 0.5 per cent, to 15,109.26.

Biogen Idec slipped 6.5 per cent to 208.7 cent as Citigroup cut its recommendation on the stock.

Cooper Tire and Rubber soared 40 per cent after agreeing to be acquired by Apollo Tyres Ltd. for about $2.57 billion (€1.95 billion).

Hewlett-Packard gained 3.4 per cent, the most in the Dow, to $25.05. Chief executive officer Meg Whitman told CNBC that the personal-computer maker is ahead of its target in the turnaround as the company has made half of its planned job cuts.

Technology licensing group Rambus jumped 5.1 per cent after settling patent litigation with SK Hynix. – (Additional reporting Bloomberg)