European equities fluctuated before finishing narrowly in the red, cementing the moribund mood of the previous session.
However, US stocks climbed in early trading as investors reckoned Washington was closer to agreeing a fiscal stimulus deal, even as a volatile presidential debate raised concerns about a chaotic election in November.
The Iseq finished flat as key stocks managed to avoid the downbeat sentiment that infiltrated European markets on a choppy day.
Ryanair was a notable climber, adding 1.2 per cent to €11.41, while food group Kerry added 1 per cent to €109.50. Glanbia also advanced, adding 1.7 per cent to €8.81, while Ires Reit was another to finish in the green, closing up 2.3 per cent at €1.41. Dalata Hotel Group added 2.3 per cent to €2.48.
But the banks, which had joined in a Europe-wide decline on Tuesday, failed to rally, with Bank of Ireland closing down 0.1 per cent at €1.58 and AIB slipping 0.8 per cent to 88 cent.
Smurfit Kappa was also a faller, with the packaging group losing almost 1 per cent to €33.52.
A bleak production forecast from Shell and losses in consumer stocks weighed on London’s FTSE 100, but an upbeat outlook from gambling firm 888 Holdings pushed it to the top of the UK mid-caps index.
The FTSE 100 fell 0.5 per cent as the oil and gas sector declined 1.8 per cent. Royal Dutch Shell hit its lowest in more than six-months after warning third quarter production was set to drop sharply due to the coronavirus pandemic and hurricanes forcing offshore platforms to shut down. Shell closed down 1.7 per cent.
Compass Group lost 3.2 per cent as the catering giant forecast a 19 per cent fall in organic sales.
Sentiment took a hit after an indecisive US presidential debate overnight and a near 20 per cent slide in Britain’s GDP, but investors took heart from upbeat economic data from China and the US.
The mid-cap FTSE 250 rose 0.8 per cent as 888 Holdings jumped 21 per cent after forecasting a better annual profit and declaring a special dividend.
G4S was the top boost, hitting a seven month high after the security group rejected a cash offer by smaller Canadian rival GardaWorld weeks after it turned down a similar proposal.
TP ICAP, the world’s biggest inter-dealer broker, slumped 16 per cent after revealing it was in advanced talks to buy electronic trading network Liquidnet Holdings for $600 million to $700 million.
The European benchmark Stoxx 600 index finished 0.1 per cent lower. In Germany, the Dax slid 0.5 per cent, while the French Cac 40 declined 0.6 per cent.
French waste and water management company Suez jumped 5.9 per cent after bigger rival Veolia raised its offer to buy a 29.9 per cent stake in the company. Veolia nudged up 0.55 per cent.
Among other individual stocks, Paris-listed oil giant Total added 3.1 per cent despite the subdued outlook from Shell. Germany’s Volkswagen rose 2 per cent.
The S&P 500 index rose to a two-week high after treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin suggested he would offer Democrats a proposal for $1.5 trillion in pandemic aid. Sentiment was helped by a report that showed US companies added a better-than-forecast 749,000 jobs in September, overshadowing concern about a contested election outcome.
A reminder of the pandemic’s economic pain came from Walt Disney Co’s announcement that 28,000 workers will be let go from its US resort business. Disney was trading 0.5 per cent lower at about 6pm Irish time. Tech stocks were trading modestly higher, with Microsoft leading gains.
Shares of workplace app Asana opened at $27 per share in their market debut, nearly 28.6 per cent above the reference price of $21 apiece set by the New York Stock Exchange. – Additional reporting: Bloomberg / Reuters