Small investors take Christmas profit


After the strong gains of the past week, Dublin stock prices were hit by some pre-Christmas profit-taking by small investors as weakness in international markets provided the excuse to take profits.

The main reason for the near 1 per cent fall in the index was the sharp fall by CRH in the wake of the Ibstock acquisition, even though CRH has said that the deal will be earnings-enhancing from year one.

With most of the trading involving retail investors, volumes were very low.

CRH fell 621/4p from its overnight level to £11.701/2 but dealers said this overstated the real level of interest in the shares and that, when profit-taking small investors are finished their business, the shares should rebound.

Financial shares were mixed with the two big banks weaker and merger partners Irish Life and Irish Permanent firmer.

AIB closed 15p easier on £11.55, Bank of Ireland lost 20p to £14.60 while Anglo Irish was 5p easier on 190p. In the opposite direction, Irish Life was up 91/2p to 633p and Irish Permanent was up 20p to £10.00.

Industrials were mixed and Smurfit eased 1/2p to 1241/2p after the recent improvement on the back of positive broker notes.

Waterford Wedgwood, however, remained weak, and was 3.8p lower on 53.2p.

Second-liners to gain on the day included Grafton (up 70p to £11.70), Fyffes (up 2p to 142p) and IAWS (up 5p to 290p).

Trading in Irish stocks on Nasdaq was quiet and there was only any real volume in Elan and CBT. CBT drifted $1/2 lower to $131/2 while Elan was marginally firmer on $633/4. Esat, Ryanair and Iona all made modest gains.