Markets end the year higher on reduced interest-rate hopes

European shares post annual gain of nearly 13%

European shares ended 2023 with an annual gain of almost 13 per cent on hopes of softer monetary policy from big central banks next year.


The Irish index of shares closed the final session of the year largely flat, losing 0.2 per cent over the day. Markets closed early on the last day of trading for 2023, with the Euronext Dublin at 8,760 by the closing bell.

Banking shares were mixed, with AIB up 1.57 per cent to €3.88 and Bank of Ireland edging 0.9 per cent lower to €8.22.

Other stocks that tipped into the red were Glanbia, which shed 1.13 per cent, and Ryanair, which was off just under 1 per cent.


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Ferry company Irish Continental Group fell almost 1.6 per cent to close the week at €4.33.


The FTSE 100 rose 10.5 points, or 0.14 per cent to end the day at 7,733.24. The index is now around 280 points higher than it was on the last day of trading in 2022.

Shares in Shell ended the day up 0.9 per cent despite the price of oil looking like it was on track for its first fall since the year the pandemic struck.

The biggest risers on the FTSE 100 were Standard Chartered, up 11.4p to 665.4p, Taylor Wimpey, up 2.25p to 146.82p, Hikma Pharmaceuticals, up 21.5p to 1,782.25p, Sainsbury’s, up 3.2p to 302.45p, and Prudential, up 9p to 884.7p.

The biggest fallers on the FTSE 100 were Antofagasta, down 28p to 1,680.5p, Land Securities, down 11.6p to 707.2p, Howden Joinery, down 13p to 816.3p, Schroders, down 6.7p to 430.05p, and Endeavour Mining, down 24p to 1,753.5p.


The pan-European Stoxx 600 edged up 0.1 per cent on Friday, posting its seventh straight weekly gain and its best December performance since 2021.

It closed the year 12.6 per cent higher, with rate-sensitive technology stocks among the best performers.

On Friday, media stocks led gainers, with a rise of 0.5 per cent, followed by banks.

Spanish stocks inched up 0.2 per cent after a preliminary reading showed the 12-month inflation rate fell to 3.1 per cent in December, from 3.2 per cent the previous month.

Shares in Spanish pharma group Grifols jumped 8.6 per cent after it agreed to sell a 20 per cent stake in China’s Shanghai RAAS Blood Products for about $1.8 billion to Chinese home appliance company Haier Group Corporation.

Bourses across Europe will be closed on January 1st on account of the new year holiday.


US stocks lost momentum on the final trading day of an upbeat year that witnessed the benchmark S&P 500 hover around its all-time high this week on growing expectations the Federal Reserve will cut interest rates early next year.

All three indexes were in the red by early afternoon on Friday, with the tech-heavy Nasdaq leading losses on a decline in megacap stocks.

The S&P slipped on Friday after coming within a whisker of its all-time closing high reached in January 2022 in the previous session. If it manages to end above that level, it would confirm the index entered a bull market after it hit the bear market closing trough in October 2022.

The Dow Jones hit a record high on Thursday, while the Nasdaq has outperformed Wall Street peers, rising 43 per cent this year given the artificial intelligence boom and a surge in megacap stocks.

At 12.05pm ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 132.87 points, or 0.35 per cent, at 37,577.23, the S&P 500 was down 24.42 points, or 0.51 per cent, at 4,758.93, and the Nasdaq Composite was down 112.61 points, or 0.75 per cent, at 14,982.53.

Among corporate movers, Uber and Lyft lost 2.3 per cent and 4 per cent, respectively, following a report that Nomura downgraded the ride-sharing platforms.

— Additional reporting: Reuters

Ciara O'Brien

Ciara O'Brien

Ciara O'Brien is an Irish Times business and technology journalist