Ryanair buyback lifts stock almost 1%

S&P 500 index closes up on $25bn sale of Forest Laboratories to Actavis

US stocks fluctuated, with the Standard & Poor's 500 Index close to a record, as a $25 billion deal to acquire Forest Laboratories offset slower-than-forecast growth in New York-area manufacturing. In London the FTSE 100 continued to gain ground while in Dublin the Iseq fell back on relatively slim volumes. Most European exchanges remained little changed.

The Iseq index of Irish shares fell back 0.17 per cent. Ryanair rose almost 1 per cent to €7.30. It repurchased 109,000 shares yesterday as part of its plans to return €1 billion in capital to shareholders by way of a combination of share buybacks and dividends. Traders said the buyback was "largely factored in" by investors.

Hibernia REIT fell back 1.09 per cent to €1.09 as investors digested the property trust's first deal announced on Monday, to take on the completion of 200 residential units in Dublin.

Stockbroker Davy said in a note the initial yield on the transaction, sub-3 per cent, was “unappealing” but that it was a “relatively low risk project”, given “improving residential market dynamics”.


Green REIT fell back sharper, losing 4.65 per cent to €1.23. Independent News & Media slipped 1.97 per cent to 15 cents. Datalex , the travel software company, was among the risers gaining 1.56 per cent to €1.30.

British Gas parent Centrica yesterday endured more share losses after UBS, a leading broker, slapped a sell rating on the firm just two days before its annual results.

The blue-chip stock, which has lost a fifth of its value since October, dropped more than 3 per cent at one stage but later clawed back some of the decline as the wider FTSE 100 Index continued its bounce back, closing 0.09 per cent higher.

In a quiet session for corporate updates, attention was focused on the UK economy after new figures showed inflation fell to 1.9 per cent in January.

Banking stocks were among the biggest gainers of the session, with Royal Bank of Scotland up 8.4p to 360.2p and Barclays ahead 5.3p to 261.3p.

European stocks were little changed, after two days of gains, as a measure of German investor confidence fell more than forecast and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York's general economic index missed estimates. Inditex lost 4 per cent as Citigroup lowered its rating on the retailer.

Casino Guichard-Perrachon rallied 3.2 per cent after posting an 18 per cent jump in 2013 earnings. The Stoxx Europe 600 Index added less than 0.1 per cent at the close of trading. National benchmark indexes retreated in 12 of the 18 western European markets. France's CAC 40 fell 0.1 per cent and Germany's DAX rose less than 0.1 per cent.


Most US stocks rose, with the Standard and Poor's 500 Index climbing to within eight points of a record, as a $25 billion deal to acquire Forest Laboratories offset slower growth in New York-area manufacturing.

Forest Laboratories surged 28 per cent after Actavis agreed to buy the maker of the Alzheimer's drug Namenda.

D R Horton and PulteGroup lost more than 1.2 per cent as a gauge of homebuilder confidence declined by the most on record in February amid bad weather that hurt sales.

The S&P 500 added 0.1 per cent to near its record close set last month.

Drug maker Mylan climbed 4.8 per cent to a record $48.30, and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals added 2.7 per cent to $332.78, also an all-time high. Zynga increased 5.8 per cent to $5.15.

Coca-Cola reported global sales volumes below expectations and its stock fell 3.8 per cent to $37.47. Tesla shares rose 2.8 per cent to $203.70 after hitting a record intraday high of $206.

Apple shares edged up 0.4 per cent to $545.99. US-traded shares of BlackBerry rose 5.3 per cent to $9.46. – Additional reporting Bloomberg, PA