European shares saw broad-based gains on Thursday allying after encouraging comments from China on trade with the United States came as a welcome relief amid growth worries and political turmoil. The optimism seemed to outweigh concerns about impeachment surrounding US president Donald Trump which pushed Wall Street into the red.
The Iseq all-share index closed 0.58 per cent higher on Thursday helped by rises in index heavyweights.
Building materials giant CRH closed 1.85 per cent higher at €30.80 after the cement maker said former Bank of Ireland chief executive Richie Boucher will take over as chairman in the new year.
Airlines generally were dragged lower after a profit warning by Aer Lingus owner IAG but Ryanair suffered more than budget rival EasyJet and dropped 1.69 per cent on the day to €10.18.
Another mover on the day was Swiss-Irish baking group Aryzta which slipped to yet another record low after one analyst cut his price target on the stock and suggested it would have to sell its Picard unit at a loss. The company dipped 6.7 per cent on its Irish listing to €0.75 on little volume. More than five million shares were trading on its Swiss listing on the day.
The FTSE 100's heaviest faller was Pearson, which plummeted after the education publisher warned that students are turning to online and digital resources faster than bosses expected — hitting profits. It dragged shares lower, falling 120.8p to 740p at the close of play.
Elsewhere, Imperial Brands tanked after it warned over a hit to annual sales, following Donald Trump's move to crack down on flavoured e-cigarettes and tighten regulation on vaping products. Shares of the maker of Blu slumped more than 10 per cent as it said it had seen a "marked" slowdown in the US vaping market in recent weeks.
IAG, the owner of British Airways, also saw shares suffer after it revealed it took a €137 million hit from the 48-hour strike by pilots that saw 4,521 flights cancelled earlier this month.
Howden Joinery dropped 0.25 per cent after Davy analyst Flor O'Donoghue cut his rating on the stock from "outperform" to "neutral". Mr O'Donoghue said the stock is trading at a rating that "looks stretched on an absolute and relative basis".
The pan-European Stoxx 600 index closed up 0.6 per cent, after weak purchasing managers' surveys, worries about Britain's exit from the European Union and the impeachment probe into Trump had pressured the index over the last three sessions.
Healthcare stocks were among the biggest gainers on the day after rating agency Moody's said drugmakers with a major presence in China would benefit from the country's growing demand for drugs. AstraZeneca, Novartis and Roche rose between 0.7 per cent and 1.5 per cent.
Belgian supermarket chain Colruyt jumped 7.6 per cent after a better than expected net income forecast.
Dutch bank ABN Amro was among the biggest drags on the pan-region index, hit by a money laundering investigation.
Facebook slipped 2.4 per cent as a person familiar with the matter told Reuters that the US Justice Department will open an antitrust investigation of the social media company.
Losses in the social network’s stock pulled the communication services sector down.
The benchmark S&P 500 index came within spitting distance of its July all-time high last week, but has since widened the gap on conflicting trade headlines and political uncertainty.
Leisure cruise operator Carnival dropped 8.1 per cent and was set for its worst day in six months after it cut its full-year profit forecast for the third time on the back of higher fuel prices.
Shares in one of this year's market success stories, Beyond Meat, jumped 8.1 per cent as it added McDonald's to a growing list of clients for its plant-based patties.
– Additional reporting: Reuters/PA