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ISEQ's impressive rally continues

Thursday, January 09 12:53:49

The rally on the ISEQ main shares market continued this morning as a measure of investor confidence returned with the index now some 40pc higher than it was this time last year.

By 12:30, the ISEQ was up 62.58 points to 4,765.15.

The Irish index rose to its highest level since late 2008 this morning - though it should be noted that it is still a very long way away from its pre-crisis best at just over 10,000 reached in mid 2007.

Nevertheless, this week's highly successful sovereign debt issue by the NTMA plus increasing signs of recovery in Europe and the US added to strong momentum in the UK economy has lifted investor expectations that the worst is behind them.

Euro zone economic sentiment rose more than expected in December and inflation expectations picked up, data showed on Thursday, easing some pressure on the European Central Bank to loosen monetary strings further.

Investors bought peripheral euro zone stocks today, pushing bourses in Madrid, Milan and Lisbon to outperform northern peers again as confidence grows in Southern Europe's struggling economies.

Overall, pan-European indexes inched higher, although investors were reluctant to make big bets before a European Central Bank policy meeting later in the day.

Dragon provided a drilling and production update this morning ahead of a scheduled trading statement on January 14th. Production for 2013 averaged 73.75 kbopd resulting in annual growth of 9.1pc in line with guidance of 9pc - 10pc outlined in October (GBS forecast of 10pc). Completion of two wells in December (Lam 185 & 186) yielded initial rates per well of 3,727 and 2,933 bopd respectively and resulted in gross production exiting December of 74.8 kbopd (average December rate of 72.9 kbopd). Dragon's shares fell 4c to E6.91.

RSA announced the findings of the reviews by PWC and KPMG into the financial and claims irregularities totalling 72m identified in its Irish business. RSA indicates that PWC's work supports the company's view that "inappropriate collaboration amongst a small number of senior executives in Ireland undermined control effectiveness over claims". The PWC review of electronic documents of c.60 individuals has identified documentary evidence that supports the Board's view that there has been inappropriate collaboration involving a small number of senior executives in Ireland. Specifically, this evidence suggests that certain individuals acted in such a way as to intentionally circumvent parts of the existing control framework. As such, the Irish CFO and Claims Director have both been dismissed for their roles in the issues. FBD's shares rose 34c to E17.80.