Iseq steady as markets routed elsewhere

Weak US commodities blamed as top European stock index posts big fall


The Iseq beat its peers on yesterday with a marginal gain, as the top European stock index posted its biggest fall in six weeks due to weakness in US equities and commodity prices combined with poor earnings updates.

The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index was down 1.6 per cent by the close, posting its biggest daily decline since September 28th.

Britain's top equity index was also pulled lower on by engine-maker Rolls-Royce, and supermarket operator Sainsbury fell further after posting lower profits a day earlier.

Stocks in the US fell as comments from three Federal Reserve officials reinforced the view that interest rates will rise this year.



Hibernia REIT

, the listed property group, surged by 3.8 per cent on the back of a strong set of interim results. The financial statements revealed that its net asset value was ahead by more than 9 per cent, as the company benefitted from the rebound in commercial property prices. Traders said its shares changed hands at higher volumes than usual, with €8 million worth moving in almost 1,000 deals.

Irish Continental Group, the owner of Irish Ferries, gained almost half a per cent after rallying in the afternoon to lift itself out of negative territory. It revealed third-quarter figures that showed robust summer trading.

CRH fell by more than 2 per cent as one of the most globally-exposed Irish stocks was impacted by economic worries from outside Ireland.


Weaker than expected earnings reports in Europe included another profit warning from


, which sent its shares skidding.

It dropped 19.6 per cent to 525.7 pence, its biggest daily loss in 15 years.

It also said it might cut its dividend because of weaker demand for spares and service for aircraft engines.

The company's warning pushed investors towards rival BAE Systems, which gained 3.8 per cent after announcing it would sell its less profitable operations, boosting the stock despite the defence firm seeing flat earnings for 2015.

Sainsbury fell more than 4 per cent, a day after reporting lower profits and warning of more price cuts to come.


German utility


fell 9.6 per cent after warning it would only barely reach its full-year net profit target, while Dutch insurer


missed forecasts with its loss, and dropped 11.1 per cent.

Merck climbed 1.5 per cent as it raised its annual profit forecast after quarterly earnings at Germany's second-largest pharmaceutical beat analysts' estimates.

Siemens added 2.6 per cent after raising its dividend and announcing a share buyback program. Iliad gained 2.8 per cent after the telecommunications company said the number of mobile subscribers increased.


US stocks fell the most in six weeks as a rout in commodities pressured energy and raw-materials providers, while investors braced for the first rise in interest rates since 2006.

Chevron dropped 2.5 percent and miner Freeport- McMoRan sank 5.8 per cent as the stronger dollar and a persistent slump in demand from China sent the Bloomberg Commodity Index to its lowest since 1999.

The recent weakness in commodity shares is a turnabout after energy and raw-materials helped drive a rebound from a summer correction and in October had their strongest month in four years.

The Standard and Poor’s 500 Index fell 1.4 per cent to 2,045.97 at 4pm in New York, slipping below its average price during the past 200 days for the first time in two weeks.

The US equity benchmark has struggled to hold gains.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 254.15 points, or 1.4 per cent, to 17,448.07. The Nasdaq Composite Index declined 1.2 per cent. – (Additional reporting: Reuters/Bloomberg)

Mark Paul

Mark Paul

Mark Paul is London Correspondent for The Irish Times