Irish shares and the broader European market advanced on Thursday, with Tullow Oil and other explorers standing out as a strong spot as US crude oil prices surged above $50 a barrel for the first time in three weeks.
The Iseq index ended the session up 0.6 per cent at 6,616,98, while the pan-European Stoxx 600 index advanced by 0.5 per cent to 380.46.
rose 7.8 per cent to €2.75 in Dublin and by 7.7 per cent in London, where it is more actively traded, as US crude prices rose 1.7 per cent to $50.33. This marked a third straight day of gains after Kuwait gave its backing to a producing cuts extension by the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) to reduce global supply.
Tullow is looking to raise the equivalent of €709 million through a share sale which it plans to complete early next month.
Oil exploration small-caps Providence Resources and Aminex rose by 9.5 per cent to 23 cent and 6.9 per cent to 6.2 cent respectively.
Smurfit Kappa was also in demand as Davy analysts upgraded their earnings forecasts for the company and other European paper packaging groups.
“The European packaging sector has not experienced such a confluence of positive factors for some times. Improving domestic and export demand, limited new capacity (for now), falling (US) imports and rising raw material costs combined to provide a very positive backdrop for corrugated and containerboard pricing,” Davy said.
CRH was also in demand, rising 1.3 per cent to €32.82, on growing hopes that the new US administration would unveil its $1 trillion infrastructure plan by the end of this year.
Britain’s FTSE 100 ended little changed, with mining stocks providing the most support, while stocks trading without their dividends weighed on the market.
The benchmark index edged down 0.06 percent as several heavyweight stocks went ex-div: Old Mutual, Schroders, Smith & Nephew and Prudential fell between 1.2 per cent and 1.7 percent.
However, the mining sector – boosted by strong metals prices – provided support. Glencore, Rio Tinto and Anglo American gained between 1 per cent and 2.3 per cent.
Shares in SSE, owner of Airticity, shares fell 1.5 per cent after the energy supplier said dividend cover for its 2017-2018 financial year would be at the lower end of guidance.
The London Stock Exchange, fresh from disappointment over a planned merger with Deutsche Boerse being scuppered by the EU antitrust regulator, was up 0.8 per cent.
Among other gainers, Ashtead rose 2.4 per cent after brokerage Liberum initiated coverage of the construction equipment rental company with a "buy" rating.
European shares climbed, helped by gains among industrials and commodity stocks, while German blue chips came within striking distance of their all-time highs. Germany’s DAX added 0.4 per cent to 12,256 points, just 1.1 per cent below a record high hit almost two years ago.
Traders said investors were growing confident about prospects for the region’s stocks as the economy improves, offsetting political jitters ahead of elections in France and Germany, and Britain’s divorce from the EU.
European shares have risen more than 18 per cent since the lows hit in June last year in a rally that has been supported by improving economic data, brighter earnings and expectations of a big fiscal stimulus in the United States.
Gains among industrial stocks also provided support with Germany's Siemens, which gained 1.5 per cent, while France's Saint Gobain and Schneider Electric traded up 2.1 per cent and 1.1 per cent respectively.
Among the fallers was H&M, which fell more than 4 per cent, close to four-years lows.The retailer posted a smaller-than-expected fall in pre-tax profit for the first quarter but analysts voiced concerns over its rising inventory levels, as well as a revolving credit facility.
US stocks pared gains in early afternoon trading on Thursday as investors sought fresh triggers in the run-up to the first-quarter earnings. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 0.1 per cent, at 20,684, while the S&P 500 also gained 0.1 per cent. The Nasdaq Composite edged 0.07 per cent higher.
Economic data earlier in the day showed that the domestic economy grew at a faster pace in the fourth quarter than previously estimated. Gross domestic product increased 2.1 per cent, compared with the previously reported 1.9 per cent.
Among individual stocks, Lululemon Athletica plunged as much as 23.4 per cent to a more than one-year low after the Canadian yoga and leisure apparel retailer said first-quarter comparable sales were expected to fall.
ConocoPhillips rose 7.2 per cent after the company said it agreed to sell oil sands and western Canadian natural gas assets to Cenovus Energy. Cenovus was down 12.2 per cent.