Shares fall as Ukraine crisis escalates

Bank of Ireland and Ryanair fall in Dublin as traders blame quiet day on Easter week

European stocks fell yesterday as fears grew over escalating tensions between Ukraine and Russia. Analysts say that investors do not know how the situation in the Ukraine is likely to evolve, as President Barack Obama prepares to call on European leaders to discuss further sanctions on Russia.

A number of disappointing earnings reports aggravated the situation, leaving most markets trailing after gaining some ground during the week.

The Irish market mirrored its European peers, with traders blaming a quiet day on the fact that it was Easter week.

Bank of Ireland tumbled 2.17 per cent to close at 27.1 cents following its agm yesterday. The bank said in a statement ahead of the meeting in Dublin that lending fell €1.5 billion to €83 billion between March 31st and the end of last year. The shares had actually made ground early, adding over 1 per cent by 10.30am, but slid in the afternoon.


Concerns that the Ukrainian crisis could drive up fuel prices and false rumours about a hijacking in the Far East saw investors desert airlines, hitting low-cost carrier Ryanair , whose shares fell 2.08 per cent, to close at €7.31. Aer Lingus , in which Ryanair holds a 29.9 per cent stake, tumbled 3.45 per cent to €1.54.

Tullow Oil shed 2.10 per cent to €10.19 after it announced that a wildcat well off Mauritania, in which it holds a 59 per cent stake turned out to be dry, leading it to postpone further drilling in the area.

Tate and Lyle gained 5.2 per cent to 704 pence on speculation that companies, including Bunge, could bid for the sugar producer. Bunge could make an offer of 850 pence a share, according to reports, which also named Cargill as a possible suitor.

Ophir Energy climbed 4 per cent. UBS upgraded the London-based oil and gas explorer to buy from neutral, saying the recent sell-off was overdone. Ophir plunged 29 per cent this year through to Thursday compared with an overall 4 per cent gain for gauge of energy companies in the Stoxx 600 index of European companies.

Neste Oil dropped 5.1 per cent. The Finnish oil refiner reported first-quarter earnings of 12 cents a share, missing analysts' average estimate for 14 cents. Neste predicted it would post comparable operating profit of €405 million to €495 million in 2014, lower than its earlier projection of €500 million.

Sandvik fell 3 per cent. The world's biggest maker of metal- cutting tools posted first-quarter operating profit of 2.48 billion kroner, short of analysts' estimates of 2.6 billion kroner.

Deutsche Bank fell 2 per cent. Germany's largest lender is considering selling about €5 billion of shares to raise capital levels, local newspaper Handelsblatt reported.

Royal KPN lost 1.9 per cent. The Netherlands' biggest phone company said earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation slid 22 per cent to €624 million from a year earlier, trailing analysts' €628 million average estimate.

Electrolux gained 11 per cent for its biggest rally since April 2009. The world's second-biggest maker of home appliances said first-quarter earnings before interest, taxes and one- time items rose to 749 million kroner.

Kering added 3.7 per cent to €159, its highest price this year. It said it would reorganise its luxury division after its managing director stepped down. The owner of the Gucci brand also reported a 1.2 per cent increase in first-quarter sales.

Consumer stocks led the way down on Wall Street as a number of companies reported mixed quarterly results. Amazon fell 9 per cent to $306.80 after posting a jump in revenue, offset by sharp increases in spending.

Microsoft 's earnings topped analyst forecasts, while investors were cheered by the software giant's new emphasis on mobile and cloud computing. Shares rose 0.3 per cent to $39.98. – (Additional reporting Reuters)

Barry O'Halloran

Barry O'Halloran

Barry O’Halloran covers energy, construction, insolvency, and gaming and betting, among other areas