Brexit fears weigh on European markets

Investors worry over potential trade restrictions as negotiations remain deadlocked

European stocks retreated as concern over the possible collapse of Brexit trade-deal talks weighed on sentiment.

Meanwhile in the US, the Nasdaq climbed to a record high after investors moved into mega-cap growth stocks even as a new round of Covid-19 restrictions underscored the economic impact of the pandemic.


The Iseq fell by just over 0.5 per cent on fairly low trading volumes, as the performance of its banks weighed on the index.

AIB fell by 7.5 per cent to close at €1.62 per share, while Bank of Ireland was down by 4.6 per cent to close at €2.86 per share. European banks in general performed poorly as euro zone bond yields fell. Irish banks were hit with a double whammy due to fears over the Brexit talks remaining deadlocked.


The Swiss-Irish baked goods manufacturer, Aryzta, was a bright spot on the index, finishing ahead by 5 per cent at 68.4 cents per share. Paul Singer's Elliot hedge fund made another binding offer to take over the troubled firm.


Mike Ashley's Frasers Group confirmed it was in talks with Debenhams to avoid a potential liquidation of the department store. Mr Ashley has had his eyes on the business for years, but has been regularly rebuffed. Shares in Frasers closed down 10p, or 2.3 per cent, at 423.8p.

B&Q owner Kingfisher followed the lead of the supermarkets from a week ago by committing to hand over millions of pounds in business rate relief, having previously revealed boosts in profits from its "essential" retail status. Shareholders were less impressed by Kingfisher's generosity at the £130 million bill, with shares closing down 3.3p at 265.5p.

The board of Countrywide said it was considering a new offer from its rival Connells, which upped its offer to 325p per share. Shares soared 22 per cent, up 57p to 312p, although notably this was not to the same level as the offer.

Lockdown success story Games Workshop saw a modest 1.4 per cent boost to shares following a profits upgrade. The Warhammer specialist said the second national lockdown in England had been fruitful. Shares closed up 135p at 10,010p.


The pan-European Stoxx 600 index fell up to 1 per cent before closing down 0.3 per cent. Sentiment was dulled also by worries over US-China relations after Reuters reported that United States was preparing to impose sanctions on at least a dozen Chinese officials over their alleged role in Beijing’s disqualification of elected opposition legislators in Hong Kong.

The news cast a shadow on data that showed German industrial output rose much more than expected in October. Adding to the gloom, the Ifo institute said production expectations for Europe’s largest economy have deteriorated for the coming months. Germany’s trade-sensitive DAX index lost 0.2 per cent.

Banks led losses in Europe as euro zone bonds yields fell. Finance-heavy indexes in Spain and Italy slipped more than 0.5 per cent, while France’s Cac 40 fell 0.6 per cent after scaling a more than nine-month high on Friday. Limiting losses, tech stocks added 0.4 per cent. Oil stocks slipped 0.4 per cent.

New York

The tech-heavy Nasdaq advanced 0.4 per cent, as several of its largest constituents, including Apple, up 1.56 per cent and Facebook, up 2.05 per cent, advanced. Still, a decline in names such as Alphabet and Microsoft kept major averages in check.

The S&P 500 energy index fell over 1.6 per cent, the most among the 11 major sectors as oil prices slipped. Oil companies Chevron, Exxon Mobil and Occidental Petroleum fell between 1 per cent and 2.5 per cent.

Wall Street tracked a more cautious move in global stocks earlier in the day after Washington imposed financial sanctions and a travel ban on some Chinese officials over their alleged role in Beijing’s disqualification last month of elected opposition legislators in Hong Kong. – Additional reporting Reuters/PA

Mark Paul

Mark Paul

Mark Paul is London Correspondent for The Irish Times