North Korean jitters subside, world markets edge up
After jitters over North Korea subsided on Thursday, European and US indices closed up with Ireland’s benchmark index performing strongly on the day.
The main news story from Europe was Carrefour’s profit warning, news that rocked both the stock itself and the French retail sector.
As August drew to a close on a day of very light volume, Ireland’s benchmark Iseq index ticked up by 1.08 per cent.
Results on Thursday morning from ferries operator Irish Continental Group showed that the company had more than doubled its profits to €43 million. Although that included a gain from the sale of a ship, investors appeared pleased with the results and the stock closed up by 0.5 per cent at €5.64.
The most traded stock on the Iseq today was Cairn Homes on the back of news that it would be added to the FTSE Global Small Cap Index in September. The housebuilder was one of the top Iseq gainers and closed up by 4.47 per cent.
Another Irish stock being added to significant index is AIB which will join the FTSEurofirst 300. It, however, closed down on the day by 1.07 per cent.
Pretax profits at Total Produce edged up by 28.6 per cent to €35.4 million in the first half of the year, the company announced Thursday. The stock edged up ever so slightly by 0.7 per cent to €2.165.
Other relatively heavily traded stocks on the last day of August included CRH, Ryanair and Bank of Ireland which closed up by 1.54 per cent, 1.77 per cent and 1.01 per cent respectively.
Britain’s top share index rose on Thursday, extending gains from the previous session as support from commodities-related stocks and financials helped the blue-chip index score its second consecutive monthly gain.
Mining stocks were the standout performers, with Antofagasta, Anglo American, Glencore and Rio Tinto among the top gainers as the price of copper strengthened.
While individual moves were generally rather muted, downgrades from brokers weighed on shares in security firm G4S, which fell 3.2 per cent after UBS cut its rating on the stock to “neutral” from “buy”.
Shares in troubled subprime lender Provident Financial Group (PFG) also dropped 1 per cent after downgrades from brokers Jefferies and Canaccord Genuity.
Provident Financial will also be excluded from the FTSE 100 index in the quarterly reshuffle, FTSE said on Wednesday, along with Royal Mail, while NMC Health and housebuilder Berkeley Group will join the top share index.
European shares rose for a second day on Thursday following heavy losses on jitters over North Korea but posted a third straight month of decline.
Carrefour shares fell 13 per cent, their biggest daily drop in 20 years, after the French supermarket chain warned 2017 profit could decline by 12 per cent and cut its sales growth target. It reported weaker-than-expected first-half earnings as intense retail competition weighed on margins.
Pernod Ricard shares slipped 1.9 per cent after the world’s second-biggest spirits group said currency exchange would be a bigger weight on earnings than previously expected.
Though banking stocks helped stoke gains on Thursday, they suffered their worst monthly losses since June last year when Britain’s vote to exit the EU roiled markets.
Wall Street was higher on Wednesday as upbeat data pointed to strength in the economy.
UnitedHealth’s gain provided the biggest boost to the Dow while the Nasdaq biotech index rose, helped by a rise in Gilead, Celgene and Biogen.
Among stocks, Dollar General fell after reporting a slide in second-quarter margins.
Campbell Soup was down after the company warned that sales for fiscal 2018 could fall. Rival General Mills was also down.
Shoe Carnival surged 26 per cent in early morning trade after the footwear retailer’s revenue and profit beat estimates.
-(Additional reporting: Reuters)