European stocks nudged up to new highs again on Friday, clocking their fourth consecutive week of gains.
Investors proved optimistic after a strong earnings season and amid signs of a steady recovery from the pandemic-triggered economic downturn, though trading volumes were thin.
The Iseq closed marginally positive on Friday, with a mixed performance for its stocks in a session that was quiet overall. Financial stocks AIB and Bank of Ireland both gained ground, with AIB adding 1.5 per cent to €2.48 and Bank of Ireland rising 0.9 per cent to €5.30.
Building materials group CRH declined 0.7 per cent to €44.96, while another index heavyweight, Ryanair, also turned red, but ended just 0.1 per cent lower at €16.24. Packaging group Smurfit Kappa slipped 0.4 per cent to €49.08 on subdued volumes.
Cairn Homes was a climber, adding 2.3 per cent to €1.15 after analysts at Davy Research upgraded forecasts for the company’s performance, while real-estate investment trust stock Hibernia Reit rose 1.7 per cent to €1.34.
Food group Glanbia advanced 1.9 per cent to €14.37, the day after it increased its interim dividend and launched a €50 million share buyback.
The FTSE 100 recorded its longest weekly winning streak since November on Friday, with the blue-chip ending the day 0.4 per cent higher, led by healthcare stocks, which rose 2.1 per cent.
Dollar-earning consumer staples stocks, including Unilever, Reckitt Benckiser Group, British American Tobacco and Diageo gained between 0.5 per cent and 0.8 per cent.
The mid-cap FTSE 250 index added 0.2 per cent to hit a record high with British engineering company Babcock leading the gains.
Babcock jumped 6.4 per cent to the top of the mid-cap index after it agreed to sell its consultancy unit Frazer-Nash.
BHP Group gained 1.5 per cent as expectations grew that it would announce a verdict on the future of its petroleum business next week.
Technology company Avon Protection slumped nearly 28 per cent after disappointing trading updates, with analysts at Jefferies pointing towards delayed contract awards and supply-chain disruptions.
The pan-European Stoxx 600 index inched up 0.2 per cent to a record high of 476.16, for the 10th straight session. The index has now matched its best winning streak since December 2006.
Germany’s Dax index ticked above 16,000 points for the first time ever, while France’s Cac 40 index touched its highest level in nearly 21 years. Italian shares were also trading near their highest since September 2008.
Adidas rose 2.3 per cent after it said it was selling Reebok to Authentic Brands Group for up to €2.1 billion. Pet supplies retailer Zooplus shot up 41.1 per cent after it accepted a takeover offer worth about €3 billion from US private-equity firm Hellman & Friedman.
French healthcare company Ipsen tumbled 12.7 per cent after it withdrew a US application for palovarotene, its treatment for an extremely rare disease that causes muscles and tissue to turn to bone.
The Dow and the S&P 500 hit record highs on Friday and were set for a second week of gains, as Disney and tech-related shares rose, with the market sentiment getting a boost from easing inflation worries and a recovery in corporate earnings.
Mega-cap growth names, including Microsoft and Netflix, and healthcare stocks Pfizer and Amgen, were the biggest drivers of the indexes. The Nasdaq, however, was trading flat.
Walt Disney jumped 2 per cent in the first hours of trading after its profit topped market expectations as its streaming services added more customers than expected and pandemic-hit US theme parks returned to profitability.
DoorDash fell 1.6 per cent after the food-delivery firm’s loss widened more than expected in the second quarter. Airbnb slipped 0.9 per cent after it flagged a hit to its current-quarter bookings by the Delta variant. – Additional reporting: Reuters.