Trump’s barbs at Iran send markets scuttling for cover

Ryanair fall by 1.5 per cent as Iseq slips by almost 0.5 per cent.

In New York, Google parent Alphabet rose 2.2 per cent after Pivotal Research upgraded the stock to “buy”. Photograph: Loic Venance/AFP

In New York, Google parent Alphabet rose 2.2 per cent after Pivotal Research upgraded the stock to “buy”. Photograph: Loic Venance/AFP

 

European shares slipped on Monday as investors continued to trim risky bets amid escalating tensions between the United States and Iran.

Gains for internet giants Amazon and Alphabet helped Wall Street’s S&P 500 index steady following early losses, which were also sparked by the rising tensions in the Middle East.

Dublin

Irish traders came back to earth with a post-holiday bang on Monday, with the trade-sensitive Iseq slipping by almost 0.5 per cent.

Ryanair was prominent among those in the red, falling 1.5 per cent to €14.52 as soaring fuel costs, due to the Middle East crisis, took a toll on airlines globally.

Financial stocks across Europe also struggled because the rising tensions, and this was reflected in the performance of Irish financials. Bank of Ireland finished the session down 3.1 per cent to €4.92, while AIB slipped 1.4 per cent to €3.11.

Despite the surge in oil prices, troubled Providence Resources fell by 7.6 per cent to about 3 cents per share.

Food groups were among the bright spots on the index, with Glanbia finishing up 3 per cent to €10.47, albeit on small volumes, while Kerry Group closed ahead by 1.1 per cent to €113.20.

London

Britain’s FTSE 100 closed 0.6 per cent lower on Monday with financial stocks leading the losses on concerns over tensions in the Middle East, although oil-fuelled gains for Shell and BP provided some support.

Although BP and Shell had also helped the FTSE 100 make gains on Friday, while other markets fell after the air strike, their weighting was not enough to stop the overall index falling.

Morrisons and Sainsbury’s fell 3.3 per cent and 1.1 per cent, respectively, after Bank of America said retailers faced structural challenges, including market share losses to discounters such as Aldi UK, which reported higher sales, and profit dilution due to ecommerce.

Britain’s major supermarkets are forecast to report lacklustre Christmas sales this week, reflecting weak economic growth and comparisons with generally solid festive results in 2018.

NMC Health, whose stock tanked 30 per cent last month after criticism from short-seller Muddy Waters, skidded another 4.5 per cent to the bottom of the main index.

British Airways owner IAG and EasyJet helped to pull the travel and leisure sector lower.

Europe

European shares extended losses. The pan-European Stoxx 600 index lost 0.45 per cent.

German carrier Lufthansa fell more than 1.1 per cent on a bad day for airlines.

German polymer maker Covestro slipped nearly 5 per cent on reports of negative comments on the stock from brokers. Its shares pulled the chemicals index down 0.9 per cent.

Pandora jumped 12 per cent after its preliminary results showed it would meet its 2019 sales and profit margin forecast, a sign that attempts to turn around the struggling Danish jeweller could be starting to pay off.

The food and beverage index eked out a gain while telecoms and utilities outperformed the wider markets, indicating a preference for defensive plays.

New York

After opening about half a per cent lower, the benchmark index was trading nearly flat by afternoon trading, helped by high-growth names such as Amazon.com, Alphabet, Facebook and Netflix.

Alphabet rose 2.2 per cent after Pivotal Research upgraded the stock to “buy”, while Salesforce. com gained 3.1 per cent after RBC named the business software provider as its “top pick”.

Big lenders, including JPMorgan Chase & Co, Bank of America Corp and Morgan Stanley, were down between 0.1 per cent and 0.5 per cent, as US Treasury yields fell.

Boeing fell 0.4 per cent. A Wall Street Journal report said the planemaker was considering plans to raise more debt to bolster its finances after the grounding of its 737 Max jet. – Additional reporting: Reuters