European stocks retreat on Icahn and Plosser comments
European stocks have retreated for the first time in 4 days with investors noting a slight miss from German ZEW figures and mulling comments from Billionaire investor Carl Icahn and the hawkish Philadelphia Fed President Charles Plosser.
Plosser, who will be a voting member of the Fed committee in 2014, made his stance very clear yesterday. Proposing a defined end to the asset purchase program and warning that a continuation of the current bond buying game undermines the Fed’s credibility. This is a timely reminder that whilst a dovish Yellen will wear the captains’ armband, she may not have it all her way as the incoming 2014 team looks to have a more hawkish balance than the current crop.
The significance of recent ZEW strength has been dismissed by some given the backdrop of European unemployment and growth outlooks, but the miss added impetus to a sell off seemingly triggered in part from comments from Icahn, who warned of a big drop in equities from current valuations. Why we needed confirmation that stimulus may have overstretched valuations is beyond me, but if bears needed a high profile reassurance before coming back to the playing field they got one yesterday.
The market feels like a freshly poured pint of lager at the moment, full to the brim near all-time highs, but how much is Fed fuelled froth and how much is good drinkable substance?
Easyjet stock soared this morning after confirming profits that beat arch rival Ryanair for the first time. Full year profits stretched 51% to a record £478m with bragging rights over Michael O’Leary’s firm a welcome sweetener. Shareholders will also welcome the news of a special dividend to repay their loyalty, with the firm set to return £175m to shareholders. In stark contrast, Ryanair have recently been forced to concede that their willing portrayal as the sector villain has to be addressed, vowing to cut extraneous fees and improve customer service after cutting its full year profit forecast.
TUI travel has struck a deal to sell the bulk of its stake in The Airline Group ltd for around £38m in cash, the deal is due to complete in early 2014. The firm has also confirmed the purchase of 2 more Boeing 787-8 Dreamliners.
After bidding (or rather not bidding enough) farewell to Champions League rights last week, ITV are set to report a 2% increase in advertising revenues for the year, providing a well timed boost as they seek to fill the void of their flagship sporting event.
Oil exploration firm Afren surged over 7% on reports of a “giant” oil discovery in an offshore Nigerian basin. UBS analysts have potentially dubbed it “one of the most important made in west Africa in recent history”, a 774 million barrel mammoth, well clear of 202 million barrel estimates. All ears will now be out for future insights into quality and accessibility.
A re-iterated buy rating from analysts at FinnCap wasn’t enough to save Vectura from red numbers this morning as the stock was knocked down after reporting pre-tax losses of 1.2m, slightly below estimates. The firm has also confirmed that talks are under way with potential partners for Asthma drugs.
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