European bourses tread water as uncertainty reigns over recovery timeline

Iseq slips back as heavyweights such as Kerry have a difficult day

European shares ended flat around a one-year peak on Tuesday as a boost from major mining and bank stocks was tempered by losses in most other sectors as investors remain uncertain over a euro zone economic recovery.

The FTSE 100 ended lower after investors took a breather following three consecutive sessions of gains. Bets on a vaccine-led economic recovery and a jump in mining stocks helped support the commodity-heavy index.


The Iseq index was up throughout the morning session but ended the day down 0.32 per cent.

Kerry Group fell by more than 2 per cent to close at €103.90. The ingredients giant announced 2020 revenues would be down 4 per cent, while its chief executive rejected criticism of its acquisitions strategy following a report last week from short-seller Ontake Research.


Tullow Oil rose on the back of surging crude prices, finishing the session up 5 per cent to 37 cent per share.

Bank of Ireland was down 0.4 per cent to €3.40 per share after unions suggested management would run into difficulties if the company, which is reviewing its operations, sought to shut parts of its branch network.

AIB, meanwhile, rose 1.4 per cent to €1.66.


The blue-chip FTSE 100 ended down 0.1 per cent, with pharmaceutical and construction stocks leading declines, while most mining stocks were boosting the index. Miners Rio Tinto, BHP Group and Glencore were among the top gainers on the index. The mid-cap FTSE 250 index was flat.

Glencore jumped 2.0 per cent as it reinstated its dividend after its net debt fell by 10 per cent in 2020, helped by surging commodity prices in the second half.

BHP Group rose 1.5 per cent after the miner reported its best first-half profit in seven years, and declared a record interim dividend.

British outsourcer Serco climbed 4.8 per cent and was the second best performer in the midcap index after saying it would buy consulting services provider Whitney, Bradley & Brown from an affiliate of HIG Capital for $295 million to bolster its North American defence business.

Virgin Wine revealed that it will soon list on London's AIM market, reportedly at a value of around £100 million.


The pan-European Stoxx 600 ended largely unchanged after jumping 1.3 per cent in the previous session to its highest level since February 2020.

The main French index, the Cac, closed flat, while the Frankfurt Dax dropped 0.3 per cent.

Energy stocks rose 0.5 per cent on stronger oil prices. Bank stocks also rose to a more-than 11-month high as investors bought into some sectors that have been severely hit by the pandemic. But they still remained well below pre-Covid-19 levels.

Shares of Polish lender PKO Bank Polski topped the Stoxx 600 on upbeat expectations over a long-running foreign currency mortgage issue.

Swiss dental implant maker Straumann jumped 2.9 per cent on reporting higher quarterly organic revenue.


The Dow hit an all-time high on Tuesday, while the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq retreated slightly from record levels as investors bet on more fiscal aid to lift the world’s biggest economy from a coronavirus-driven slump.

The Nasdaq Composite lost 48.93 points, or 0.35 per cent, to 14,046.54, weighed down by technology heavyweights Apple , Microsoft and Tesla.

Sectors poised to benefit the most from a reopening economy, including energy and financial, gained the most. The banking index jumped 2.6 per cent as the yield on 10-year US treasuries hit their highest since February last year.

Shares of cryptocurrency and blockchain-related firms including Silvergate Capital, Riot Blockchain and Marathon Patent Group jumped between 6.7 per cent and 12 per cent as bitcoin briefly surged past $50,000.

(Additional reporting: Reuters/PA)

Mark Paul

Mark Paul

Mark Paul is London Correspondent for The Irish Times