Window closes on European markets’ worst trading quarter in two years

Energy costs continue to weigh on building material and airline shares

European stocks ended their worst quarter in two years on Thursday as geopolitical concerns continued to weigh on investors.

DUBLIN

Index heavyweight, building materials giant, CRH, slid 1.33 per cent to €36.35 on Thursday, worsening a tough two weeks for the Irish cement maker. Dealers said the stock had lost more than 10 per cent over the previous 10 days' trading as investors feared its industry would struggle to pass on soaring energy and raw materials costs to customers.

Ryanair outperformed most in its industry, adding 0.74 per cent to €13.59. Chief executive Michael O'Leary told news agency Bloomberg that the Irish giant aimed to make €1 billion in its 2023 financial year, which starts on April 1st, as demand for travel soars in Europe.

Ryanair is 80 per cent hedged at $63 a barrel on its jet-fuel requirements through next March, helping it to keep down prices even as competitors are forced to raise fares in response to the spiralling cost of crude, said Bloomberg.

Housebuilder Glenveagh Properties closed 2 per cent down at €1.176. Rival Cairn Homes dipped 0.64 per cent to €1.242.

Among the banks, AIB shed 1.14 per cent to €2.003 while Bank of Ireland was 1.83 per cent off at €5.808.

LONDON

Aer Lingus and British Airways' owner, International Consolidated Airlines' Group, fell 1.8 per cent to 142.24 pence sterling. Ryanair rival Easyjet climbed 1.13 per cent to 556.6p on a mixed day for airline stocks.

Housebuilder Taylor Wimpey shed 3.11 per cent to close at 130.7p on a poor day for construction-linked stocks.

Among individual shares, Brewin Dolphin surged 61 per cent to hit a record high of 512p after Royal Bank of Canada made an all-cash offer of £1.6 billion (€1.9 billion) to buy the investment business.

Tate & Lyle gained 1.8 per cent to 732.2p after the food ingredient maker said it will buy Quantum Hi-Tech Biological Co for $237 million (€214 million).

EUROPE

Europe’s benchmark Stoxx 600 closed 0.9 per cent down on the day, bringing the decline in value to over the first three months of 2022 to 6.6 per cent, making it the worst quarter since Covid-19 struck in 2020.

CRH rival Heidelberg Cement sank 3.33 per cent to €51.66 as investors concerns at soaring building materials costs continued. In the same industry, Italy's Buzzi Unicem dipped 0.79 per cent to €16.86.

Air France KLM shed 1.25 per cent to €4.09 while Germany's Lufthansa was almost 1 per cent off at €7.36. Airlines continue to wrestle with high oil, although the US signalled it will release stocks to ease pressure, sending the commodity's price tumbling on Thursday.

H&M owner Hennes and Mauritz sank 13 per cent, the most since 2017, to 126.18 Swedish kroner after reporting a sudden slowdown in sales growth, becoming one of the first retailers to signal how the war was hitting consumption.

Irish Distillers parent, Pernod Ricard, on the other hand, gained 1.17 per cent to €199.30. Citigroup analysts predicted that third-quarter sales would beat expectations while Deutsche Bank raised its price target on the stock.

NEW YORK

US stocks edged lower on Thursday on worries about the raging conflict in Ukraine and the outlook for US interest rate hikes, putting the main indices on course for their worst quarter since the pandemic crash in 2020.

At 5:05pm Irish time, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 133.06 points, or 0.38 per cent, at 35,095.75.

Meanwhile the S&P 500 was down 11.39 points, or 0.25 per cent, at 4,591.06, and the Nasdaq Composite was down 46.78 points, or 0.32 per cent, at 14,395.49.

US-listed shares of Chinese internet searcher Baidu fell 6.5 per cent after regulators added it to a list of companies that risked being delisted.

Drugstore chain Walgreens Boots Alliance fell 4.8 per cent after the company kept its 2022 forecast of low-single digit earnings growth unchanged. - Additional reporting: Bloomberg/Reuters