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Profit taking sends ISEQ index lower

Wednesday, December 18 12:57:22

After three days of steady gains, the ISEQ dipped in to the red this morning as investors pocketed gains.

By 12:45, the index was down 7.86 points to 4,401.72.

Yesterday's new medium-term economic strategy contained little of substance. The government set out new medium-term projections for the government deficit and debt out to 2020. However, both the near-term projections for GDP growth and the public finances are unchanged from those in Budget 2014. The government plans to achieve a small surplus by 2018, with debt falling to 93pc of GDP by 2020.

The latest data from ARTBA (American Road Transportation Builders Association) shows that contract awards for highways increased by 4pc yoy in November. This represented the third consecutive month of growth and leaves the ytd figure at +7pc. Contract awards for bridges were down 12pc but this follows a strong October (+300pc) and they are up almost 50pc ytd. "We are expecting this positive momentum to continue given the increases in obligated federal funds in FY13, improving state / local budgets and TIFIA projects starting to gain traction. Overall, FY14 is expected to be a year of growth for highway construction activity," said Goodbody Stockbrokers. Shares in CRH fell 8c to E17.46. "This is a mixed set of data for CRH and Wolseley who have the biggest exposure to the US amongst the European building materials sector. With almost 50pc of CRH's operations in infrastructure it is the biggest beneficiary of the improving momentum in highways, while Wolseley has a large exposure to non-residential activity (42pc versus 30pc for CRH) and therefore the weak ABI is a slight negative," the broker said.

It was announced yesterday that Paddy Power has acquired 9 shops from the Hackett betting chain in Ireland. Hacketts Bookmakers are one of the largest independent chains in Ireland with 43 shops. The 9 shops Paddy Power acquired were in Dublin (4), Limerick (2), Tipperary (2) and 1 in Offaly. Following the purchase Paddy Power will have 232 shops in Ireland. The Hacketts shops are to be rebranded Paddy Power in the early new year. The bookies' shares jumped 99c to E59.97.