Spanish banks lead European financial sector higher
Footsie manages only modest gains, kicking off the week with a lacklustre session
In London travel group Thomas Cook was up more than 4 per cent, as it announced a boost to long haul bookings. Photograph: Michael Probst/AP Photo
European shares closed marginally higher on Monday led by gains for Banco Santander, as investors chose to focus on the positives of a weekend win for prime minister Pedro Sanchez’s ruling socialists in Spain’s election.
US stocks edged higher with the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq hitting record highs, as consumer spending rose in March and a benign inflation data underscored the US Federal Reserve’s dovish stance on interest rates.
The Iseq rose close to 0.9 per cent on a day of thin trading volumes, outpacing many other European indices.
Bank of Ireland finished up 3.5 per cent to €5.77, while AIB rose 2.7 per cent to €4.18, as European banks pushed ahead, spurred on by a good performance from Spanish bank Santander following the Spanish election result.
Independent News & Media (INM), which is currently the subject of interest from a number of potential bidders, rose more than 6 per cent to almost 10.5 cents, ahead of its agm in Dublin on Tuesday.
Building materials giant CRH rose 1.36 per cent to €29.75, as it formally kicked off a €350 million share buyback
The FTSE 100 made only modest gains, kicking off the week with a lacklustre session. The blue-chip index closed 12.47 points, or 0.17 per cent, higher.
Travel group Thomas Cook was up more than 4 per cent, as it announced a boost to long haul bookings.
Online retailer Ocado’s shares were 8.5p lower at 1,389.5p. It came after the company revealed that an electrical fault was to blame for the huge fire at its Andover facility. But analysts said the decline could be linked to profit-taking.
Auto Trader chief executive Trevor Mather is to retire from the top role at the online car dealership, months after leading it into the FTSE 100. News of his departure prompted a 9.8p drop in the group’s share price to 570p.
Shares in Loungers jumped 16p to 216p on the first day of trading for the British bar chain, after it floated on the London AIM index. Loungers, which owns 146 bars under the Lounge and Cosy Club brands, began trading at market opening on Monday following its £83 million initial public offering.
Spain’s Ibex, down nearly 1 per cent earlier in the session, finished up 0.12 per cent as losses for utilities were outweighed by the rally in the shares of the country’s major lenders.
But the gains for Santander, leading banks across Europe higher, along with a dip in Spanish bond market yields, pointed to a more positive take on the events from investors. Europe’s banking sector index rose almost 1 per cent, with HSBC, Intesa Sanpaolo and BNP Paribas all among the top 10 boosts to the broader Stoxx 600 index.
French drugmaker Sanofi also rose 1.7 per cent after positive US and European regulator decisions on cholesterol and diabetes drugs co-developed by the company.
A fall in German drug-maker Bayer, as well as oil majors tracking a decline in crude prices, kept gains in check. Bayer shares fell on market talk that the company could become a takeover target.
The rate sensitive financial companies rose 1.11 per cent, the most among the 11 major sectors. While the banking sector gained 1.73 per cent.
The defensive utilities and real estate, led the declines among the seven major S&P sectors trading in the red.
Among other stocks, Ingersoll-Rand jumped 6.30 per cent, the most among S&P companies, after the Wall Street Journal reported Gardner Denver Holdings Inc is nearing a deal to acquire a unit of the air-conditioner maker.
Boeing reversed course to trade 0.4 per cent higher after chief executive Dennis Muilenburg tried to bolster shareholder confidence in the company in his first general meeting since two fatal crashes of the 737 MAX.
(Additional reporting: Reuters/PA