European shares fell on Monday as US and South Korean military manoeuvres left investors nervous about continuing geopolitical tensions.
However, deals involving Danish shipping giant Maersk and Fiat Chrysler helped stem losses.
The Irish market performed more or less in line with European peers on a day when there was little local corporate news.
Index heavyweight building materials giant CRH fell 1.01 per cent to €28.99 after about 560,000 of its shares changed hands Dubbin on Monday. It recorded its sharper fall towards the end of the session.
Exploration group Tullow Oil ended the day 0.76 per cent down at €1.701 on news that crude prices fell on world markets.
Boomaker Paddy Power Betfair slipped 1.43 per cent to €78.03. Investors continue to fear the impact of regulatory changes on its industry.
Insulation maker Kingspan, which ended last week with dramatic gains on the back of its interim results, climbed another 2.38 per cent on Monday to close at €32.25, making it one of the better performers amongst the market’s bigger stocks.
Bank of Ireland shed 1.44 per cent to end the day at €6.99. Rival AIB was only marginally down, dipping 0.61 per cent to €5.059, while Permanent TSB barely moved, inching 0.27 per cent down to €1.856.
The blue-chip FTSE 100 ended relatively flat, lower by 0.07 per cent or 5.1 points after dipping below the 7,300 mark in afternoon trading
Miners gained ground on the back of rising base metal prices which were propelled by news of a multi-billion yuan injection into China’s financial system by the country’s central bank.
Antofagasta rose 11 per cent sterling to 954.5p, while Anglo American climbed 15p to 1,295p, and BHP Billiton climbed 15p to 1,366p.
Shire shares fell 151.5p to 3,613p and were one of the FTSE 100’s worst performers after the pharma giant announced that it was searching for a new chief financial officer to replace Jeff Poulton, who will step down by year-end to work at a Boston start-up.
The biggest risers on the FTSE 100 were Micro Focus International up 69p to 2,243p, Pearson up 14p to 619p, Persimmon up 35p at 2,556p, and Admiral up 27p to 1,992p.
The biggest fallers on the FTSE 100 were Provident Financial down 107p to 1,745p, Shire down 151.5p at 3,613p, St. James’s Place down 16p to 1,173p, and Barclays down 2.4p to 193.25p.
The pan-European The Stoxx 600 fell 0.5 percent, with euro zone blue-chips down 0.5 to 0.7 percent. Falls followed a fragile Asian session which saw investors shed risky assets as joint U.S. and South Korean military drills began.
The risk-off move in Europe hit banks the hardest, down 0.9 per cent with Deutsche Bank and French lenders Societe Generale, BNP Paribas and Credit Agricole among top losers.
Deal-making, however, helped cap losses. Fiat Chrysler shares rose 6.9 percent to a 19-year high after China’s Great Wall said it was interested in the Italian-American automaker, confirming reports it is pursuing all or part of the owner of the Jeep and Ram truck brands.
Even though Fiat said it had not been approached, its shares have gained 16 percent in the past week since rumours first emerged that a Chinese buyer may be interested in the firm.
Maersk gained 2.89 per cent to close at 13,170 Danish kroner after the firm agreed to sell Maersk Oil to French major Total for $7.45 billion. “We see the deal as free cash flow neutral over 2018/19, and accretive thereafter as capital expenditure falls closer to $500 million per annum,” analysts at RBC Capital Markets said. Total shares inched up 0.3 percent.
Swiss chocolatier Lindt & Sprungli gained 3.4 per cent after UBS upgraded it to a buy.
US stocks were mostly flat in early afternoon trading on Monday amid concerns over the recent turmoil in the White House and simmering tensions between the United States and North Korea.
Nike’s shares fell 2.4 per cent, the most among the 30 Dow components, after Jefferies cut its rating and price target on the stock.
Johnson Controls rose 2.3 per cent, among the top S&P gainers, after saying its CEO change would happen earlier than announced.
Herbalife was up 10.93 per cent at $68.72 after the nutritional supplement maker said it would buy back $600 million of shares after ending talks to be taken private.
Additional reporting: Reuters