European shares hit their highest in half a year on Tuesday, buoyed by autos and insurance stocks and gains among export-heavy London stocks as Brexit uncertainty weakened the pound.
A three-day surge in US stocks stalled, however, as a downbeat forecast from drugstore chain Walgreens Boots hit the pharma sector and economic data did little to ease growth concerns.
The Iseq was broadly flat. One of the strongest performances was from Applegreen, the forecourts retailer that is targeting further international expansion. It rose 5.7 per cent to close at €5.60.
Hostelworld shrugged off a dip in reported revenues and profits to finish the session almost 0.9 per cent in the black at €2.26. The company has launched a new strategy that revolves around customer acquisition.
Ryanair fell 1.8 per cent to €11.16, a day after a gloomy outlook report from its peer easyJet.
Cairn Homes fell 1.1 per cent to €1.42, despite announcing it is seeking €90 million for a Citywest apartment block.
The pound slid as Britain moved towards potentially leaving the European Union on April 12th without a orderly withdrawal deal or alternatively perhaps an election, pushing up stocks of UK firms with significant overseas earnings.
The FTSE 100 climbed 1 per cent to finish at a six month-closing high. The pound's dip lifted the more internationally exposed components of the index. HSBC, Prudential, British American Tobacco, pharmaceutical giants AstraZeneca and GlaxoSmithKline all advanced.
Shell and BP also lent support as oil prices hit their highest this year on the prospect that more sanctions against Iran and further Venezuelan disruptions could deepen an OPEC-led supply cut.
News of Singapore Airlines grounding two Boeing 787-10 jets fitted with Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 TEN engines after checks found premature blade deterioration sent the British aircraft engine maker's shares down 1.1 per cent.
Hungarian-based, London-listed Wizz Air Holdings climbed 4.8 per cent after the low-cost airline forecast full-year profit in the upper half of target range, contrasting with Monday's gloomy update from easyJet.
European insurers gained 0.9 per cent, propped up by London-listed names such as Prudential and Old Mutual, which both rose at least 2.9 per cent.
The index of automakers and parts suppliers rose 1.3 per cent, building on Monday’s 3.3 per cent gain which came after unexpectedly strong Chinese factory data.
German auto parts supplier Continental climbed 2.3 per cent, and said it was sticking to plans list its powertrain division.
Tyre-maker Pirelli rose 2.9 per cent after the Italian firm said it saw a €107 million first-half boost from Brazilian tax credits.
European banks rose 0.7 per cent, with Swedbank jumping 6.1 per cent in its best one-day showing in more than six years. The Swedish lender's stock has bounced back almost 10 per cent this week after hitting a more than six-year low on Friday on its alleged involvement in a money laundering scandal that led to the departure of its chief executive.
Novartis shares fell 1.2 per cent after a US ruling that the Swiss drugmaker must face a government lawsuit accusing it of paying millions of dollars in kickbacks to doctors so they would prescribe its drugs.
The S&P consumer staples index was down 0.7 per cent, leading declines among nine of the 11 major S&P sectors that were down.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average was dragged down by a 12.2 per cent slump in Walgreens Boots Alliance after the company cut its 2019 profit growth forecast and reported a quarterly profit that missed analysts' estimates.
Rival CVS Health Corp fell 3 per cent, while shares of several drug wholesalers also took a hit.
Airline stocks got a lift from Delta Air Lines's better-than-expected first-quarter profit forecast. Its shares jumped 6.5 per cent, while the Dow Jones US Airlines index was up 3.2 per cent.
Dow Inc was up 4.7 per cent in its stock market debut following the spin off from DowDuPont.
The Nasdaq Composite was boosted by a 2.8 per cent jump in Facebook.
(Additional reporting: Reuters)