European shares close flat as investors rein in hopes for ECB rate cuts

Successful quarterly earnings at US chipmaker Nvidia boost technology shares on global markets

European stocks closed flat on Thursday as investor reined in speculation over the pace at which the European Central Bank (ECB) will cut rates over the course of 2024, even if a June reduction is all but certain.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 index came off session highs to close up 0.07 per cent.

Still, an upbeat quarterly earnings report from US chipmaker Nvidia boosted technology shares across global markets.


The Iseq All-Share index edged 0.7 per cent higher at 10,121.94.


AIB advanced 0.6 per cent to €5.18 amid hopes that official rates staying higher for longer will underpin income. However, Bank of Ireland dipped 0.9 per cent to €10.60, with the company’s annual general meeting failing to give the stock fresh momentum.

Small-cap Corre Energy rose 3 per cent to 47.4 cents after the energy storage developer raised €2.12 million from its founders and a large investor, tiding it over for the short term as it continues talks to attract a more significant investment from parties circling the company.


The UK’s main stock indexes closed lower for a third consecutive session amid political uncertainty ahead of UK elections in July, while news of slower growth across businesses in May weighed on sentiment.

The blue-chip FTSE 100 index and mid-cap FTSE 250 each tumbled 0.4 per cent.

A surprise call for a general election by UK prime minister Rishi Sunak spooked investors as they weighed the potential scenarios.

Utilities shares fell 7.1 per cent, leading declines among sectors, after energy infrastructure operator National Grid said it is looking to sell its Grain liquefied natural gas terminal in Britain. The stock fell 10.9 per cent.

On the brighter side, the aerospace and defence sector gained 2.4 per cent, boosted by Qinetiq Group after it hit a record high on an upgraded financial year outlook.

Hargreaves Lansdown surged 14.4 per cent after the investment platform rejected a takeover proposal.


The tech index rose 1.1 per cent, with semiconductor stocks including ASML, Infineon and ASM up after Nvidia forecast quarterly revenue above estimates, announced a stock split and raised its quarterly dividend by 150 per cent on a post-split basis.

A surge in technology stocks around the prospects for artificial intelligence (AI) and hopes of imminent interest rate reductions by the ECB had boosted the Stoxx 600 index since late 2023, and it is trading just shy of its all-time high.

However, risky assets came under pressure as yields on European bonds rose after a preliminary survey showed euro-zone business activity expanded at its fastest pace in a year in May.

Separately, closely watched negotiated pay growth picked up slightly in the first quarter, bolstering the case for caution in cutting interest rates from record highs.

Traders are pricing in rate cuts of 0.58 of a percentage point of ECB rate cuts by the end of 2024, compared with 0.67 of a point on Wednesday.

Shares of Embracer slid 8.7 per cent after the Swedish games developer said its finance chief would step down for personal reasons, and also reported fourth-quarter operating profit in line with market expectations.

Swiss bank Julius Baer rose 3.2 per cent as its assets under management rose 10 per cent in the first four months of the year.

New York

The tech-heavy Nasdaq climbed as investors cheered AI chip leader Nvidia’s blowout revenue forecast, but persistent worries about US inflation limited gains in the broader US market.

The blue-chip Dow was the worst performer among the major indexes, hitting an over one-week low on a slide in Boeing as the US aircraft manufacturer forecast negative free cash flow in 2024 due to sluggish deliveries.

Chipmakers Broadcom and Micron Technology as well as AI server maker Super Micro Computer were up.

DuPont announced plans to split into three publicly traded companies. Shares of the US conglomerate were up only slightly, though.

Ticketmaster owner Live Nation dropped after a report that the US department of justice could seek a break-up of the company to combat its domination of concert ticket sales. – Additional reporting: Reuters

Joe Brennan

Joe Brennan

Joe Brennan is Markets Correspondent of The Irish Times