European stocks inch up in thin trading

European stocks edged higher yesterday, with gains in miners and telecommunications firms tempered by a slide in Unilever.

By the close in Dublin, the ISEQ Overall Index was up 0.14pc or 8.86 points, to end the trading session at 6,549.09.

The leaders on the Dublin market included packaging giant Smurfit Kappa, which increased 0.8pc to €26.39, as well as building materials group CRH, which rose 1pc to €32.51.

On the other side of the board, the laggards included speciality baker Aryzta, which dropped 2.6pc to €30.19, while Kingspan fell 1.9pc to €28.80. Elsewhere, the Stoxx Europe 600 Index added 0.2pc at the close, with commodity producers snapping a two-day drop as metal prices increased. The volume of shares traded in the equity gauge was a third lower than the 30-day average, with US markets closed for a holiday.

Unilever’s London-listed shares tumbled the most since 2008 after Kraft Heinz withdrew its $143bn bid for the firm. The Anglo-Dutch consumer company surged on Friday as news of the offer became public. Deutsche Telekom led telecommunications shares higher, rising 2.5pc after a report that Sprint owner Softbank was targeting its T-Mobile US Inc unit in a merger.

Royal Bank of Scotland Group rallied 6.8pc to a one-year high after scrapping plans to sell its Williams & Glyn banking unit, removing one of its biggest obstacles to paying dividends and cutting the UK government’s stake. With political risk in Europe in the spotlight, JPMorgan equity strategists recommend a paired trade of Germany’s DAX Index versus France’s CAC 40 Index as a hedge against the risk of a populist vote in France.
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