World stocks hit the heights as Dublin stays in the shadows

US indexes boosted by retailers; Iseq’s big movers are Ryanair, Total Produce and Reits

World stock markets scaled fresh highs on Thursday, with key US indexes lifted in early trading by rosy retailer results.

European stocks held steady, meanwhile, as investors awaited a key decision by crude oil-producing countries after minutes from the Federal Reserve’s latest meeting showed most officials judged it would be appropriate to tighten US monetary policy again soon.


The sunshine failed to bring investors out from the shadows in Dublin, with the Iseq index of leading shares ending flat at 6.971.76.

There were strong flows into both Hibernia Reit and Green Reit, which closed up 3 per cent and 2 per cent respectively. The boost comes after Hibernia earlier this week signalled that it planned more generous dividends and reported growth in the value of its properties.


Total Produce was another big mover. It ended up 3 per cent to €2.01 after raising its guidance and announcing a final dividend of 2.2297 cents per share.

Ryanair, which will update investors on its performance next week, gained from positive sentiment towards the airline sector on the back of strong results from Wizz Air. Ryanair, whose shares advanced 2.1 per cent on Wednesday after chief executive Michael O'Leary issued a new Brexit-related warning, closed up 1 per cent at €17.57.

Bank of Ireland closed 1.5 per cent lower at 0.25 cents.

Other movers in Dublin included drinks group C&C, down 2 per cent to €3.40, and Kingspan, up 2 per cent to €31.42.


British shares steadied on Thursday as investors sought fresh catalysts after a run that lifted the country’s main indexes to record highs, while Petrofac saw one third of its value wiped out amid worries over a fraud investigation.

The FTSE 100 ended up 0.04 per cent, shy of a record high hit last week, as weakness among commodity stocks was more than offset by stronger financials and consumer stocks.

Petrofac fell 30 percent, making it the biggest FTSE 250 faller, after the oilfield services firm suspended its chief operating officer in response to a British investigation into alleged bribery, corruption and money laundering.

Wizz Air reported a 28 per cent rise in full-year profit and said it had seen no signs of demand for flights weakening since Britain voted to leave the EU, helping to send its shares to a record high. Shares jumped as much as 11 per cent to a high of 2,166 pence.


A number of European stock exchanges were closed for the Ascension holiday.

The Stoxx Europe 600 Index slipped less than 0.1 per cent at the close. Financial services and household goods companies were among the best performers, while basic resources and energy stocks underperformed.

French aerospace supplier Zodiac rose by 0.5 per cent after accepting a reduced offer from aero engine maker Safran, following a series of profit warnings.


The US benchmark S&P 500 index and Nasdaq Composite opened at record highs on Thursday, while the VIX “fear gauge” of expected volatility in the S&P 500 opened at 9.82, its lowest since May 10th.

Gains were propelled by sturdy sales data at electronics retailer Best Buy, lifting its shares as much as 17 per cent as top gainer on the S&P 500. Robust results also boosted Tommy Hilfiger-owned PVH by 7 per cent.

Sears reported its first quarterly profit in nearly two years, as the retailer slashed costs by nearly a third and benefited from the sale of its Craftsman brand, sending its shares surging as much as 32.5 per cent.

Shares in Staples rose as much as 6.5 per cent after it rejected a takeover offer from Cerberus Capital Management as too low, leaving Sycamore Partners in the running to acquire the office supplies retailer.

Additional reporting: agencies

Charlie Taylor

Charlie Taylor

Charlie Taylor is a former Irish Times business journalist