Banking stocks pull ISEQ index upwards

THE main banking stocks pulled the ISEQ index of Irish shares upwards yesterday, on the back of the announcement of the planned new “Basel III” capital rules for European banks, which are aimed at preventing another serious banking sector meltdown.

AIB, on the first day of trading since the announcement of the sale of its Polish operations to Spanish banking giant Santander, finished yesterday up by 4c – or 4.82% – at 78c, having been slightly higher earlier in the day.

Elsewhere, Bank of Ireland reached 72c; 4c or 5.43%, higher than Friday’s closing price. Irish Life & Permanent (IL&P) – which remains confident over its chances of buying EBS and merging it with its Permanent TSB retail banking arm and raising the necessary funds to do so, despite reports building up the chances of rival bidders – was up by 10c, or 6%, at €1.70.

Overall, the ISEQ closed at just over 2,815 points yesterday – representing a 1.25% increase on the day.

It was a similar trend across the main European markets, with London up 1.2%, Paris’ CAC up 1.1% and the DAX in Frankfurt up by 0.8% .

In Dublin, there were also decent gains for the likes of Irish Continental Group, DCC, FBD, Glanbia, Ryanair, Smurfit Kappa and CRH; but Norkom Technologies shed 30c – or 24% – on the back of a first-half profit warning.

Meanwhile, Karl Whelan, professor of economics at UCD, called yesterday’s Financial Times editorial on Irish banking policy – which called on the Government to let “zombie” banks, such as Anglo Irish Bank, die in order to boost demand for Irish sovereign debt, and the guarantee scheme to be cancelled for new issues – surprisingly harsh.

“Reading this, it strikes me as interesting how quickly we’ve gone from a situation where the Government’s defenders were complaining about domestic malcontents and pointing to increasingly receptive audiences overseas, to one where the exact same people are blaming the international press for our problems – on the grounds that they don’t understand the situation as well as those who are living here,” he said.

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