Strong banks and oil stocks offset by weak miners and automakers
Bank of Ireland up 3.7% in Dublin on a good day for banking stocks across Europe
Daimler extended losses after its sites were searched by German prosecutors in an emissions inquiry. Photograph Getty Images
European shares struggled to gain momentum on Wednesday, with strength in banks and big oil stocks offset by weakness for miners and automakers.
The pan-European STOXX 600 index ended up 0.1 per cent, while on Wall Street investor awaited the publication of the minutes for the Federal Reserve’s May meeting.
The Iseq nudged up 0.3 per cent, finishing the session with a gain propelled by a 2.1 per cent advance for Ryanair. The airline’s share price closed at €17.39 after chief executive Michael O’Leary said it would carry 130 million passengers in the year to March 2018, up 10 million on the previous year, and had 30 aircraft ready to deploy in Italy should Alitalia collapse.
Elsewhere, Bank of Ireland rose 3.7 per cent to 25.4 cent on a good day for banking stocks across Europe, while food group Glanbia added 1.1 per cent to €17.84. Real estate investment trusts Green Reit and Hibernia Reit rose 0.6 per cent and 1.7 per cent respectively.
However, Paddy Power Betfair fell 1 per cent to €97.50, and building materials group CRH was down 0.8 per cent at €32.27.
The FTSE 100 rose, outperforming other major European markets, after the index of blue-chip stocks was lifted by Marks & Spencer and advances in energy stocks. Weaker mining stocks limited the gains to 0.4 per cent, however.
The index’s gains were capped by losses in basic resources stocks after a sell-off in commodities following Moody’s debt downgrade on China, a big global metals consumer. Rio Tinto declined 0.5 per cent and precious metal miners Randgold and Fresnillo fell 1.5 and 0.4 per cent respectively.
Glencore lost 0.1 per cent after saying it had made an informal approach to US grains trader Bunge to discuss what it called a “a possible consensual business combination”. However, Bunge responded by saying it was not in talks with the mining and commodities group.
Marks & Spencer rose 1.5 per cent, reversing earlier losses that followed the release of results showing a 10 per cent drop in earnings and sliding sales in the latest quarter.
France’s Cac 40 and Germany’s Dax both fell 0.1 per cent, with the latter weighed down by stocks such as Hugo Boss and Evonik going ex-dividend, meaning buyers will not receive its next dividend payout.
Banks were the biggest contributor to gains on the STOXX index with Banco BPM leading the way with a surge of 4 per cent, helped by market talk about the sale of bad loans. But the sector was weighed down by a 0.9 per cent fall in Deutsche Bank after news that US House Democrats had asked the German lender to provide information on whether any accounts linked to US president Donald Trump have ties to Russia.
Automakers were the biggest sectoral fallers, down 0.6 per cent. They were led lower by a 1.6 per cent fall in Daimler, which extended losses after its sites were searched on Tuesday by German prosecutors in an emissions probe.
Fiat Chrysler closed down 0.6 per cent, but recouped some of the earlier losses incurred after the US government said it would sue the Italian-American carmaker over excess emissions.
Wall Street equities were modestly higher late on Wednesday morning, with stocks aiming for a fifth straight day of gains as investors awaited Federal Reserve minutes of its May meeting that could cement the chances of an interest rate hike next month.
Home improvement chain Lowe’s dropped 4.3 per cent in early trading after it reported a lower-than-expected profit and comparable sales. Bigger rival Home Depot was off 0.2 per cent.
Tiffany sank 6.8 per cent after posting a surprise drop in comparable sales. Signet Jewellers, which reports its results on Thursday, was down 6 per cent. The two jewellery retailers were the biggest losers on the S&P 500. – Additional reporting: Reuters