Technology stocks help European shares edge higher

Dublin and London in the red with Ryanair and Aer Lingus owner IAG among fallers

European shares rose on Wednesday helped by stronger technology and healthcare stocks. But weakness in the retail and energy sectors capped gains ahead of a policy announcement by the US Federal Reserve.

Crude oil prices dropped for the third successive session amid rising demand risks from the spread of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus.

DUBLIN

The Iseq edged down 0.1 per cent as most of its biggest stocks retreated. After recording a gain in the previous session, Ryanair was once again on the slide, finishing down 2.7 per cent at €14.01.

The banks also had a weak day, with AIB down 1.7 per cent at €2.14 and Bank of Ireland dropping 1.5 per cent to €4.85.

Shares in HealthBeacon, a medical technology company, jumped as much as 4.3 per cent in early trading as they were floated on Euronext Dublin. However, they subsequently pared those gains to end the session up one cent, or under 0.2 per cent, at €5.86.

Elsewhere, building materials group CRH slipped 0.1 per cent to €44.66, while Dalata Hotel Group was down almost 1.5 per cent to €3.40 with travel and leisure stocks coming under pressure.

On the upside, Glenveagh Properties climbed 1.2 per cent to €1.17 and insulation-maker Kingspan managed a 1.5 per cent gain to close at €100.55.

LONDON

The FTSE 100 ended 0.7 per cent lower, recording its sixth straight session in the red, weighed down by commodity-linked stocks.

Data showed consumer prices jumped to their highest in a decade ahead of a Bank of England meeting but, owing to a wave of Omicron cases, investors no longer expect the central bank to raise interest rates on Thursday.

Cineworld fell 39.4 per cent following a court order to pay $957 million (€850 million) in damages to a rival.

Oil majors BP and Royal Dutch Shell declined about 1.6 per cent each, as crude prices fell on growing expectations that supply will outpace demand next year.

Irish energy and services group DCC, which is listed in London, surged 9 per cent after it announced the acquisition of Almo Corporation, the largest distributor of appliances and consumer electronics in the US, in a deal worth $610 million (€542 million).

Shares of Aer Lingus and British Airways owner IAG dropped 5.1 per cent after it said it was in advanced talks to cancel its purchase of rival Air Europa from Spain's Globalia.

EUROPE

The pan-European Stoxx 600 closed 0.3 per cent higher to end a five-session losing streak. In Frankfurt, the Dax added 0.15 per cent, while the Cac 40 in Paris rose 0.5 per cent.

Technology stocks led gains, adding 1.3 per cent after a recent bout of selling while healthcare stocks climbed 1.1 per cent. A disappointing earnings update from Zara owner Inditex sent the Spanish fashion giant down more than 5 per cent and weighed on retail shares. Its Swedish rival, H&M, fell 2.8 per cent after the company's quarterly sales matched expectations but analysts flagged sales in China as a concern.

Swedish bank SEB slipped 2.2 per cent on being hit with a €511 million tax demand from Germany.

Investors also awaited the European Central Bank meeting on Thursday, with policymakers expected to decide how to adapt the bank's regular asset purchase programme once the much larger pandemic-fighting PEPP scheme ends in March.

NEW YORK

Wall Street stocks fell in early trading ahead of a policy announcement by the Federal Reserve later in the day, as recent readings on inflation sealed expectations of a speedier wind-down of the central bank’s pandemic-era monetary stimulus.

Shares of big technology firms including Tesla, Microsoft, Netflix, Meta and Alphabet were all down between 0.3 per cent and 2.5 per cent.

– Additional reporting: Reuters