European stocks moved towards record highs on Thursday, following a set of strong company earnings and as the European Central Bank left interest rates and its bond-buying efforts unchanged as expected.
The Iseq closed in positive territory on Thursday, rising 0.4 per cent to 8020.25.
Banks were in favour with investors as Bank of Ireland gained 1.8 per cent to €4.34, and AIB jumped 2.6 per cent to €2.353.
Food stocks were mixed with Kerry Group down 1.6 per cent to €108.35, while Total Produce rose 1 per cent to €2.04, Glanbia was up 0.8 per cent to €12.60.
Datalex continued its recent strong run, up 6.5 per cent to €0.49, albeit with low volumes traded.
Ryanair flew high, rising 3.6 per cent to €15.85. Other movers included Smurfit Kappa, down 1.1 per cent to €40.42 and Cairn Homes, up 2.4 per cent to €1.09.
Britain's FTSE 100 ended higher on Thursday on higher retail stocks as last week saw a jump in footfalls and a weaker pound. Mid-caps rose to their best day in two weeks led by gains in construction company Morgan Sindall.
The blue-chip FTSE 100 ended 0.6 per cent higher, with retailers gaining nearly 2 per cent as shoppers rushed back to clothes and furniture stores when they reopened last week after three months of Covid lockdown.
The pound fell 0.6 per cent, erasing the week’s gains against the dollar, as investors weighed up the outlook for an economic recovery in Britain.
The domestically-focussed mid-cap index gained 1.3 per cent, with construction company Morgan Sindall up 19.6 per cent as brokerages raised their price targets on the stock after it raised its annual outlook.
Britain's Metro Bank gained 0.6 per cent on aims to expand its consumer finance lending tenfold to £2 billion, a source familiar with the plan told Reuters, as it seeks to reverse a sharp downturn in its fortunes in the last two years.
Heavyweight Nestle rose almost 3 per cent after reporting its strongest quarterly sales growth in 10 years, while software group SAP and French spirits group Pernod Ricard were among some of the other stocks to surge after results.
Credit Suisse, meanwhile, fell 2.1 per cent after a hit from the collapse of US investment fund Archegos wiped out what would have been a stellar trading period, leaving it with a slightly smaller-than-flagged quarterly pre-tax loss of 757 million Swiss francs.
The pan-European STOXX 600 index rose 0.7 per cent, extending gains for a second day, after fears of a new wave of Covid-19 cases pushed European markets to their worst day in 2021 on Tuesday.
Shares of renewable energy companies such as Vestas and Siemens Gamesa surged, with Vestas jumping 10 per cent for its best day in a month after the Biden administration on Thursday pledged at a climate summit to slash US greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030.
Birkin bag-maker Hermes was up 2.1 per cent as strong growth in Asia powered a 44 per cent surge in quarterly sales.
The S&P 500 and Dow Jones indexes edged lower on Thursday as a resurgence of Covid-19 cases globally sapped appetite for stocks, with data showing tepid US home sales adding to the grim mood.
Investor sentiment dulled in the first half-hour of trading, with eight of the 11 major S&P 500 sectors in the red.
American Airlines Group and Southwest Airlines reported a smaller-than-expected quarterly loss, signalling a revival in travel demand. The performance of their shares was mixed though, with Southwest rising 0.5 per cent and American Airlines falling 0.4 per cent.
Chipmaker Intel was down 1 per cent in the hours ahead of publication of its first quarter results.
– Additional reporting: Reuters