Stocks rally in most western markets

Ireland and Iceland only western countries not to record positive day’s trading

Both European and US stocks made gains yesterday, with Ireland and Iceland the only western countries not to record a positive day's trading while further talks between Russia and Ukraine encouraged movement.

Trading on the Iseq was relatively flat, down 17 points, and was outperformed by most European markets.

CRH, the building materials company, released half-yearly figures. The stock had a good run before yesterday, when it handed back some of the gains made and finished down 1.8 per cent at the close.

Bank of Ireland was down 3.5 per cent by the end of the day, its negative movement interpreted as the inevitable bounce back from a healthy recent period of trade which saw it jump by 13 per cent last week.


Permanent TSB, which released results yesterday showing strong mortgage lending and a decrease in arrears, closed down 1.3 per cent on a day when volume was minimal.

The FTSE 100 Index climbed 38.1 points to 6779.3, building on a rise of 52 points in the previous session.

Mining giant BHP Billiton was the biggest faller despite posting a rise in earnings and setting out plans to unlock shareholder value by spinning off a new company featuring its aluminium, coal, manganese, nickel and silver assets.

BHP shares fell 5 per cent, or 102p, to 1,965p, on the absence of any plan being to return cash to investors via an anticipated share buy-back of $3 billion.

House-builder Persimmon reported a 57 per cent rise in half-year profits to £212.9 million and said forward sales since the end of July were running at £1.53 billion, 22 per cent ahead of the same period in 2013. Persimmon shares were up 15p at 1350p. The biggest gain among house builders was at Barratt Developments, up 10.4p to 368.6p. EUROPE European stocks advanced for a second day. The Stoxx Europe 600 Index gained 0.6 per cent to 335.49 at the close of trading. The equity benchmark rallied 1.2 per cent as talks between Ukraine and Russia eased concerns about the conflict.

Maersk gained 4.9 per cent to 14,160 kroner after saying it expected full-year underlying profit to reach $4.5 billion. It had forecast $4 billion. The container shipper reported second-quarter earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation of $3.09 billion.

Imperial Tobacco added 2.3 per cent to 2,585 pence after saying sales fell 1 per cent in the nine months through June.

ThyssenKrupp rose 2 per cent to €21.48 after Handelsblatt reported that the German steelmaker wanted to exit its stairways business and a submarine shipyard in the long term.

Sixt gained 3.2 per cent to €28.43 after saying second- quarter Ebit rose to €50.9 million from €43.1 million a year earlier.

US stocks rose in early trade, with the Standard and Poor's 500 Index near an all-time high and the dollar strengthened as housing starts jumped and corporate results topped analysts' estimates.

Home Depot advanced 6 per cent to a record $88.59. Chief executive officer Frank Blake has focused Home Depot on boosting sales from existing locations and investing in ecommerce, rather than opening new stores.

Dick's TJX increased 7.8 per cent to $58.12. The discount apparel company that owns TJ Maxx and Marshalls raised its profit forecast after comparable-store sales grew faster than estimated.

Dick's Sporting Good added 3.3 per cent to $44.94. The company beat second-quarter earnings projections, although it said promotions and advertising would weigh on profit the rest of the year.

Wal-Mart Stores, the world’s largest retailer, posted stagnant US same-store sales last week, marking the sixth straight period of no growth. – (Additional reporting, Bloomberg, PA)

Mark Hilliard

Mark Hilliard

Mark Hilliard is a reporter with The Irish Times