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ISEQ rises ahead of key US jobs figures

Friday, February 07 12:55:32

The ISEQ main index of Irish shares rose in line with the rest of Europe today as investors keenly await the latest figures on job creation in the US for signs of a strengthening in the world's biggest economy.

By 12:45, the ISEQ was up 24.58 points to 4,789.16.

European shares rose for a second straight day, supported by hopes that jobs data later in the session would reveal a brightening picture for the U.S. economy. Investors were hopeful that U.S. employment figures would show signs of improving economic growth, after Thursday's encouraging initial jobless claims data fuelled strong gains on Wall Street.

At home, shares in CRH rose 33c to E19.39. Following strong fourth quarter results from CRH peers Vulcan Materials and USG both share prices were up strongly yesterday, 9pc and 13pc respectively. Vulcan reported earnings of $0.08 versus consensus for losses of $0.03 and up from last year's $0.03. This reflected strong volume and pricing growth (aggregates +7pc and 3.5pc respectively) and better than expected gross margins. USG reported adjusted earnings of $0.19 (consensus $0.10) which represented a significant improvement on last year's losses of $0.48 and was on the back of continued double-digit sales growth. Cemex's Q4 results were slightly behind expectations (Q4 EBITDA $642m versus $655m consensus) on some margin pressures in emerging markets. "These results provide a positive read through for both CRH and Wolseley given that the US represents 52pc and 54pc of group sales, respectively. The commentary on highways is particularly positive for CRH given that up to 50pc of its business is in this segment," said Goodbody Stockbrokers.

Shares in Fyffes dipped 2c to E0.91. According to DEFRA, UK wholesale banana prices in the year to date, which normally reflects weekly pricing trends on the Continent, were c.5pc lower than a year ago. "All else being held equal, the fall in selling prices would cause a significant squeeze on banana margins, although the negative impact will be mitigated somewhat by a weaker dollar (-2pc), lower EU import duty (-3pc) and lower bunker fuel costs (-1pc). While still early in the year, if the above trends hold true across all customers for the remainder of the quarter this would be negative for Fyffes core banana business, particularly given c.65pc of profits are in H1," the broker said.