Stocks flat as investors assess economic fallout of coronavirus

Markets report: Iseq all-share index also flat but domestic stocks staged relief rally

Photograph: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Photograph: Spencer Platt/Getty Images


Major world stock indexes were little changed on Friday as investors further assessed the economic fallout of China’s coronavirus outbreak, while oil prices were on track for their first weekly gain since early January.


Irish stocks followed the global trend and closed flat on Friday but housebuilders and banks staged a relief rally after being troubled earlier in the week.

Stocks exposed to the domestic economy were boosted on the back of shifting political machinations with the real estate investment trusts also gaining.

Ires Reit, the State’s largest landlord, was the biggest gainer on the smaller Iseq 20 index, rising 2.77 per cent to €1.56. Housebuilders Cairn Homes and Glenveagh Properties also gained, up 1.97 per cent to €1.25 and 1.22 per cent to €0.83 respectively.

It was a day of mixed fortunes for the banks, with AIB rising 2.04 per cent to €2.40, having traded as much as 4 per cent higher earlier in the day, and Bank of Ireland falling 0.58 per cent to €4.12.

Elsewhere, Flutter Entertainment slipped 1.45 per cent to €101.90 on the day after the UK’s gambling regulator said it was considering putting limits on the amount punters can bet online.


The FTSE 100 index ended the trading session 0.6 per cent lower.

Among corporate news, AstraZeneca dropped over 4.3 per cent as its quarterly earnings failed to match up to market expectations.

Ulster Bank-owner Royal Bank of Scotland fell 6.8 per cent, ending the day at the bottom of the blue-chip index, after its new top boss set out a new strategy that included cutting back the size of its loss-making investment bank and renaming the company NatWest.

Warehousing specialist Segro outperformed the index, rising 1.5 per cent and hitting a fresh high after it reported a jump in full-year profit and increased its dividend.

Among smaller stocks, biotechnology company Novacyt jumped 29 per cent after it said it would launch a certified test for the new coronavirus next week.

Mosman Oil and Gas tanked 36 per cent after it announced capital raise and updated the markets on its corporate strategy, which included the sale of some of its projects.


The pan-European Stoxx 600 index was largely unchanged on the day, losing 0.12 per cent.

Most government bond yields across the euro zone edged lower on Friday, after bleak economic data from Germany added to concerns about the bloc’s economic outlook.

Italian yields were broadly higher, with its bonds underperforming the broader euro zone market, following the latest signs of unrest in the ruling coalition government.

Data showed the German economy stagnated in the fourth quarter due to weaker private consumption and state spending, renewing fears of a recession just as chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives are preoccupied with a search for a new leader.

The European Union’s statistics office said GDP in the 19 countries sharing the euro expanded 0.1 per cent quarter-on-quarter in the October-December period.


The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq edged higher on Friday, supported by Nvidia shares after its upbeat outlook. The stock jumped 8 per cent as the company forecast first-quarter revenue ahead of analysts’ estimates, reinforcing expectations of a rebound in chip demand.

Expedia jumped 11.3 per cent after the online travel services company forecast strong quarterly core earnings amid coronavirus uncertainties.

The energy, healthcare and industrial sectors were the losers among the 11 major S&P sectors.

Wall Street was on course for a second straight weekly gain after hitting a series of record highs on a largely positive fourth-quarter earnings season and confidence in the US economy. However, data released on Friday was not so rosy. A US commerce department retail sales report showed consumer spending likely slowed further in January, while separate data indicated industrial production fell more than expected last month.

US financial markets are closed on Monday for President’s Day. – Additional reporting: Reuters