Stocks hover close to record highs on good day for airlines

Market edgy ahead of ECB policy decision and US inflation data

It was a good day for airline stocks as the US loosened restrictions on travel. Photograph: Steve Parsons/PA Wire

It was a good day for airline stocks as the US loosened restrictions on travel. Photograph: Steve Parsons/PA Wire

 

World stocks hovered near record highs as markets awaited a policy announcement from the European Central Bank and US inflation data, both due on Thursday. US bond yields fell on Wednesday as some of president Joe Biden’s stimulus efforts appeared to be on the rocks, boosting the appeal of technology stocks.

DUBLIN

Shares dipped slightly in the Dublin market, with the Iseq-20 finishing 0.3 per cent lower and the Iseq Allshare faring fractionally worse, with a fall of 0.35 per cent.

Ryanair went against the trend, catching the mood on what was generally a good day for European airline stocks with the US loosening travel restrictions. The Europe-focused carrier was 1.87 per cent stronger at the close on €16.885.

Housebuilder Glenveagh gave up 1.6 per cent in relatively strong volume. Building materials heavyweight CRH was another to fall on the session, closing 2.1 per cent weaker on €42.71 while insulation group Kingspan also slipped, down 0.88 per cent on €78.86.

Paddy Power owner, Flutter Entertainment added half a percentage point to finish on €160.70.

The two big banks made modest gains while Permanent TSB gave up some ground.

LONDON

British shares ended lower on Thursday after broadly underperforming their European peers, dragged down by heavyweight financial and mining stocks in a thin trading session before a key European Central Bank meeting and US inflation numbers.

The blue-chip FTSE index fell 0.2 per cent, with homebuilder stocks and life insurers leading declines. Banks gave up 1.6 per cent. Smith+Nephew jumped 2.3 per cent and was among the top performers in the FTSE 100 index, after Credit Suisse upgraded the medical products maker’s stock to “outperform” from “neutral”. Clinigen Group slumped 26.4 per cent after a profit warning.

Miners, including Rio Tinto, Anglo American and BHP Group, fell more than 2 per cent each.

Wizz Air ended 3.3 per cent higher on news that it is likely to fly more this summer than it did pre-pandemic, as European Covid-19 travel restrictions loosen.

The domestically focused mid-cap FTSE 250 index slipped 0.6 per cent to a nearly two-week low over risks arising from a small jump in Covid-19 cases and the lack of a breakthrough in post-Brexit talks with the European Union.

EUROPE

European stocks remained near record highs, with investors holding off on taking big bets ahead the ECB policy decision. The pan-European STOXX 600 index closed 0.1 per cent higher, but stayed just short of a record high of 455.66 hit in the previous session.

Air France KLM, Lufthansa and Aer Lingus owner IAG climbed about 3 per cent each after the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said it was easing travel recommendations on 110 countries and territories.

The wider travel and leisure index rose 0.9 per cent as many European economies charted their way out of Covid-19 lockdowns.

Among regional bourses, Germany’s DAX fell 0.4 per cent and France’s CAC 40 rose 0.2 per cent.

Spanish retail giant Inditex reversed early gains made after beating first-quarter net profit expectations. Its shares were down more than 2.2 per cent. French food group Danone slipped 0.9 per cent after RBC downgraded the stock to “underperform”.

NEW YORK

US markets turned lower in afternoon trading while bonds held gains as investors braced for the key inflation report that could provide clues on the direction of monetary policy.

The S&P 500 slipped 0.2 per cent after earlier climbing above its May 7th record closing level. Megacap technology and biotech stocks were buoying the benchmark index, while big bank stocks were among those weighing it down.

Four of the main 11 S&P 500 industry groups rose, with health-care stocks outperforming and financials dropping the most.

JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America were among the biggest drags on the index, each dropping more than 1 per cent. Johnson & Johnson, Merck, Pfizer and Eli Lily were among the stocks offsetting those losses.

Biogen resumed a rally two days after getting regulatory approval for its Alzheimer’s drug while delivery group UPS tumbled the most in seven months after its profit-margin outlook disappointed investors.