Markets edge lower on uncertainty over Fed ‘tapering’ of stimulus programme

Official says Federal Reserve may decide to reduce bond purchases at next policy meeting

The Iseq eased back by about 0.6 per cent yesterday, as indices across the world edged lower on uncertainty over when and how the US Federal Reserve will taper its stimulus programme.

After a week of major gains following the Fed’s announcement it would maintain the programme, an official created confusion by saying it may decide to reduce bond purchases at its next policy meeting.

National indexes fell in 11 of the 18 western European markets. The UK' s FTSE 100 slid 0.4 per cent and Germany's DAX slipped 0.2 per cent. France's CAC 40 index dropped 0.1 per cent.
Smurfit Kappa, the paper and packaging giant, ended the day down about 3 per cent, after a high volume sell-off in the final two hours of trading. At one stage in the final hour, it was down 5.1 per cent.

Traders said the sell-off was prompted by a similar dip in the share prices of some of its European rivals.


Ryanair’s share price remained flat, as investors seemed non-plussed by Michael O’Leary’s statement that the it would look for ways to improve customer service. It closed down a fraction at €6.30.

C&C fell 3.1 per cent to close at €4.11. The company is under the spotlight following its admission recently that it had problems integrating its Vermont Hard Cider acquisition in the US. It is expected to provide an update on its US sales at its interim results briefing next month.
Direct Line dropped 3.7 per cent to £2.10 after RBS sold 300 million shares in the insurance company. The bank, which is majority owned by the UK government, reduced its holding in Direct Line by 20 per cent to 28.5 per cent.

BP, the UK's sixth largest company by market capitalisation, rose 0.4 per cent, adding 1.4 points to the FTSE 100.

Traders cited renewed talk that US energy giant Exxon Mobil could be about to bid for BP. Bid talk has consistently circled the company since its oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010.

Britain's third-largest grocer, J Sainsbury, climbed 1.3 per cent. Traders attributed the rise to a Citigroup upgrade of the stock.
Adidas slipped 3 per cent to €80.11 after cutting the low end of its profit forecast for 2013 by 7.9 per cent. The world's second- largest sporting-goods maker said the euro's strength would hurt its sales in the third quarter, while a move to a new distribution centre in Russia would reduce the availability of products in shops.

Deutsche Bank declined 2.1 per cent to €35.36. A newspaper report said its chief executive Anshu Jain may say at a conference next week that a slowdown in fixed-income trading will hurt the lender's revenue in the third quarter.

Mediaset, controlled by former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, added 1.7 per cent to €3.29 after Morgan Stanley increased its target price on the broadcaster to €3.65 from €2.15.

The brokerage said that an improving advertising market in Italy and sustained cost savings will enable the company to reduce its debt levels.
Shares in cybersecurity company FireEye opened 101.5 per cent above its initial public offering price at $40.30. Shares of advertising technology company Rocket Fuel also more than doubled in their trading debut, valuing the company at more than $2 billion.

The stock opened up 106.7 per cent.

The Nasdaq was propped up by shares of Apple, which rose 0.6 per cent to $474.91 as the company’s latest version of its iPhone line hit stores around the world.

AK Steel slid 7.6 per cent to $4.11. The steelmaker predicted its loss in the third quarter would be 22-27 cents a share, which includes a 9-cent loss related to a furnace outage in Ohio. – (Additional reports Bloomberg, Reuters)