Travel stocks fare well as investors bet on consumer bounceback

Nervousness from US traders as they await news of Fed policy tightening

European shares closed at a record high on Wednesday, despite caution ahead of a US Federal Reserve meeting that could see it outline plans to start stimulus unwinding.

On Wall Street, the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq drifted just below their record highs as investors waited on the news from the Fed.

The Iseq all-share index rose 0.65 per cent in brisk trading. Ryanair matched the index's rise as the airline finally took possession of its first Boeing 737 Max jet after a delay of more than two years, saying it would have 12 of the "game-changer" aircraft in time for this year's summer peak. It closed at €16.27 per share.

Paddy Power's parent, Flutter Entertainment, was one of the strongest performers, finishing ahead by 3.4 per cent to close just above €160 per share. It was also one of the top performers on London's blue chip FTSE 100 index, where it keeps its main listing. It capitalised on a wave of positive sentiment towards consumer stocks.


Both of the main Irish banks fell, in part, on read throughs from their European peers. AIB finished the session down 2.1 per cent to €2.47, while Bank of Ireland fell by a similar margin to €5.01.

The FTSE 100 pushed to another 16-month high, despite the dampened conditions in the US.

Dignity's shares remained unchanged by the end of the day, indicating that investors are unconcerned by a new plan from the Competition and Markets Authority to force funeral directors and crematoria to clearly display their standard prices.

Sofa seller ScS said it expected to do better than previously forecast this year. Orders are about 50 per cent higher than they were a year ago. Shares closed up 5.5 per cent.

Electra Private Equity said it planned to demerge from Fridays, the bar and restaurant chain, in the third quarter of this year. Its shares rose 6.8 per cent.

Gateley fell 2.8 per cent after the legal and professional services group reported a cyber security breach from a known external source. Online furniture retailer fell 1.5 per cent in its market debut.

The pan-European STOXX 600 was up 0.2 per cent to a record high of 459.86 points, marking its longest gaining streak in 3½ years.

Travel and leisure, utilities and chemical stocks were the best performers, as investors bet on a jump in consumer demand and industrial production.

But banks fell 0.9 per cent on stock price losses in Banco Sabadell, Santander and Caixabank, after Spain's competition watchdog opened an investigation into possible anti-competitive practices in the marketing of state-backed coronavirus loans. The Spanish bourse lagged its regional peers, falling 0.3 per cent.

German software giant SAP fell 1.2 per cent, weighing on the Dax after a disappointing profit forecast from US software rival Oracle.

Spanish solar power developer Solarpack surged 43 per cent as it disclosed a takeover bid from Swedish fund EQT valued at a maximum of €881.2 million. EQT shares fell 1.2 per cent.

New York
Interest rate-sensitive bank stocks shed about 1.9 per cent, tracking a dip in the benchmark 10-year US Treasury yield .

Citigroup Inc fell nearly 4 per cent as its finance chief, Mark Mason, cautioned that the economic recovery may not translate into better profits for the bank because of a slowdown in institutional businesses and higher expenses. On the other hand, healthcare, energy and utilities were in a bright spot.

New York-listed shares of Chinese private tutoring companies New Oriental Education & Technology Group, TAL Education Group and Gaotu Techedu fell between 8.4 per cent and 13 per cent after a Reuters report that China was poised to unveil a much tougher-than-anticipated crackdown on the industry. – Additional reporting: Reuters/PA

Mark Paul

Mark Paul

Mark Paul is London Correspondent for The Irish Times