Marketing

Markets fail to sustain pace set during week


The last day of trading in April saw European and US benchmarks edge lower after reaching record highs this week on the back of an upbeat first-quarter earnings season.

Dublin

The Dublin market dipped just under 1 per cent to end the day at 8,092.97. Shares in Kerry Foods and Glanbia ended the session down more than 1 per cent each, with the latter ending the day at €12.24 and Kerry Foods closing at €107.80.

Banking stocks were mixed, with AIB closing 1.8 per cent off at €2.434, and Bank of Ireland gaining 1.5 per cent over the day to close at €4.88.

Airline Ryanair gained almost 2 per cent over the session as hopes were lifted that travel could return later in the summer. The gains followed Thursday’s session where investor optimism over the vaccine rollout lifted the stock by 1.4 per cent. Shares in the airline ended the week at €16.90.

Glenveagh Properties continued to edge lower, with the stock dipping further to 91.2 cent, while Cairn Homes regained some of its losses the previous day to end the week just above €1.08.

London

London’s Ftse 100 index outshone its European rivals on Friday, boosted by earnings updates from AstraZeneca and Smurfit Kappa which help offset a slump in Barclays shares due to a cautious outlook despite profits beating expectations.

London’s blue-chip index ended the session up 0.1 per cent to secure a monthly gain of about 3.8 per cent, the most since November, and bring a year-to-date rise to almost 8 per cent.

The star performer in London was heavyweight AstraZeneca as better-than-expected results and a second-half growth forecast lifted its shares 4.3 per cent and buoyed the broader UK market.

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The drugmaker said that its Covid-19 vaccine sales were $275 million in the first quarter and that it was on track to deliver 200 million doses a month from April.

Another big winner on Friday was Smurfit Kappa. Europe’s largest paper packaging producer jumped 4.2 per cent after it posted a 6 per cent increase in first-quarter revenue on strong packaging demand.

The index was further supported by tobacco makers British American Tobacco and Imperial Brands which rose more than 2 per cent each after peer Swedish Match reported upbeat quarterly profit.

Barclays posted by far the worst performance of the session, losing 7 per cent despite beating expectations with January-March profit more than doubling to £2.4 billion.

Europe

European stocks ended lower on Friday after dismal GDP data, but marked a third straight month of gains on strong corporate earnings and optimism about an economic recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.

The pan-regional Stoxx 600 index fell 0.3 per cent, hovering below its all-time high, and ending the month 1.8 per cent higher.

Data showed the euro-zone economy dipped into a second technical recession after a smaller than expected contraction in the first quarter, but is now set for recovery as pandemic curbs are lifted amid accelerating vaccination campaigns.

But strong earnings showed companies in the euro zone were well on their way to recover from the impact of the pandemic.

Swedish Match rose 0.7 per cent after the tobacco group reported a much higher first-quarter operating profit than expected, helped by growth in its Smokefree product segment.

Banking stocks came under pressure on Friday as euro-zone bond yields eased from their highest level since January 2020. But the sector raced past its peers this week with a near 6 per cent gain, driven by a swathe of strong earnings.

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France’s BNP Paribas slipped 0.8 per cent on higher costs and Spain’s Banco Sabadell jumped 8.7 to the top of the Stoxx 600 after its quarterly profit beat market expectations, helped by strength in its British unit TSB.

New York

The S&P 500 fell in early afternoon trading on Friday, after a slew of strong quarterly earnings and upbeat economic data put the benchmark index on track for a third straight month of gains.

The Nasdaq is set for six consecutive months of gains, boosted by impressive results from big technology companies. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is on course to end in the positive territory for three months in a row.

Amazon. com rose 1.1 per cent after it posted record profit and signalled that consumers would keep spending in a growing US economy and converts to online shopping are not likely to leave.

Twitter plunged 12.8 per cent as it offered a tepid revenue forecast for the second quarter, saying user growth could slow as the boost seen during the pandemic fizzles.

Other high-flying stocks including Microsoft, Facebook, Alphabet and Apple fell between 0.3 per cent and 1.5 per cent.

Nine of the 11 major S&P 500 sectors were trading lower, with technology, materials and energy falling more than 1 per cent each.

At 12.01pm ET the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 209.03 points, or 0.61 per cent, at 33,851.33; the S&P 500 was down 23.99 points, or 0.57 per cent, at 4,187.48; and the Nasdaq Composite was down 55.84 points, or 0.40 per cent, at 14,026.70. – Additional reporting: Reuters

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