European shares rise to two-month high

Wall Street also advances as investors bet Federal Reserve has reached end of interest rate hikes cycle

European shares hit a two-month high on Wednesday, led by rate-sensitive real-estate stocks, while British software firm Sage jumped to a record high after reporting strong annual operating profit and announcing a share buyback plan.

Meanwhile, a gauge of euro-zone equity market volatility hit its lowest level since July.


The Iseq added 1.2 per cent, outperforming the general trend across Europe, as its biggest stocks posted healthy gains.

Packaging group Smurfit Kappa added 1.5 per cent to close at €31.12, while Ryanair advanced 1.3 per cent to €17.48.


It was a good session also for Flutter Entertainment, with the owner of Paddy Power rising 1.2 per cent to €148.30, while Kerry added 2.2 per cent to €73.48.

Bank of Ireland and AIB also ended the day in positive territory, with Bank of Ireland up 0.7 per cent at €8.73 and AIB edging up 0.3 per cent to €4.19.


The commodity-heavy FTSE 100 slipped 0.2 per cent, lagging other regional markets, with heavyweight energy stocks tracking weak crude prices as an OPEC+ meeting was delayed. The blue-chip index declined for the third straight session, while the mid-cap FTSE 250 climbed 0.7 per cent.

British chancellor of the exchequer Jeremy Hunt announced tax cuts for workers before an expected 2024 election and gave businesses investment incentives in an attempt to boost the economy. However, the overall tax burden is still set to rise to a postwar high.

British pub stocks including JD Wetherspoon, Marston’s and Fuller, Smith & Turner rose between 1.5 per cent and 2.2 per cent after Hunt declared a freeze on all alcohol duties until August 2024. Spirits giant Diageo added 1.3 per cent.

Sage rose 13.3 per cent after reporting an 18 per cent rise in full-year underlying operating profit and said margins would continue to increase this year. The company also announced a share buyback programme.

Entain climbed 5.9 per cent with traders linking the surge to a Financial Times report saying activist investors are putting pressure on the owner of betting group Ladbrokes.

Home improvement retailer Kingfisher shed 7 per cent after downgrading its full-year profit outlook for the second time in only three months.


The pan-European Stoxx 600 closed 0.3 per cent higher, with real-estate stocks leading gains and rising 1.5 per cent.

Euro-zone bonds were little changed after central bank officials did little to dampen investor expectations that the next move in interest rates would be lower.

Thyssenkrupp climbed 6.6 per cent after the German submarine-to-steel group reported full-year results with “strong” free cash flow.

German fashion house Hugo Boss rose 3 per cent after Deutsche Bank and BofA Global Research upgraded their ratings.

Monte dei Paschi di Siena recovered 2 per cent after Tuesday’s 7.9 per cent drop as Italy sold a 25 per cent stake in the bailed-out bank. Meanwhile, rating agency Moody’s upgraded its ratings by one notch and confirmed its positive outlook.


Wall Street’s main indexes rose, helped by bets that the Federal Reserve had reached the end of its rate hikes, although a rise in Treasury yields and some underwhelming earnings reports kept gains in check. Light trading volumes also impacted market moves ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday.

Nvidia’s shares fell 3.4 per cent after the chip designer forecast overall fourth-quarter revenue above Wall Street targets, but warned US export curbs could lead to a steep drop in sales in China.

Investors also watched the latest turn of events at OpenAI after the ChatGPT maker reached an agreement for Sam Altman to return as chief executive days after his ousting. Shares of the start-up’s financial backer Microsoft rose 1.2 per cent. – Additional reporting: Reuters

Laura Slattery

Laura Slattery

Laura Slattery is an Irish Times journalist writing about media, advertising and other business topics