By Helen Reid
LONDON (Reuters) – Irish shares outperformed the rest of the euro zone on Tuesday after Britain and the European Union agreed tweaks to Britain’s withdrawal agreement that eased some fears of no-deal Brexit on March 29.
Dublin’s ISEQ climbed 1.4 percent, set for its biggest gain since Feb. 5 and outdoing a 0.1 percent rise in the . The erased early gains to trade flat by 0930 GMT.
Britain’s fell 0.1 percent as a surge in sterling after British Prime Minister Theresa May won last-minute assurances from the European Union weighed on the multinational exporters that dominate the index. In euro terms, the FTSE 100 has been outperforming European peers.
British lawmakers who rejected May’s withdrawal agreement in January are due to vote on the Brexit deal again on Tuesday.
“It’s difficult to say if this will be enough to see the deal passed tonight, but at least the probability has been increased by this addition to the existing contract,” said Britta Weidenbach, head of European equities at German asset manager DWS.
“The market will probably only react to this in a more positive way once we know what the outcome is going to be.”
Hopes of a smooth outcome to the long Brexit divorce process boosted British housebuilder and bank shares, with Lloyds (LON:), RBS (LON:) and Persimmon (LON:) among the top European gainers.
With earnings season nearing an end, results were down to just a trickle.
Swiss drug retailer Galenica led gains, jumping 7.2 percent after full-year earnings and dividend beat the market’s expectations.
German carmaker Volkswagen (DE:) fell 0.6 percent after reporting a decline in operating margins for its core VW brand and announcing it would introduce almost 70 new electric models by 2028.
French engineering firm Spie rose 4.4 percent after reporting stronger-than-expected net income.
Dutch payments firm Adyen dropped 5 percent after pre-IPO investors sold 2.5 million shares at a 9 percent discount.
Shares in Swiss toilet and plumbing supplies maker Geberit fell 2.3 percent after the company said it saw a challenging 2019 because of Brexit and political uncertainty in Italy.
Overall, the fourth-quarter earnings season has been underwhelming. Over the past four months, analysts have cut their earnings growth expectations for 2019 from 9 percent to just 5 percent.
Outside results, Telecom Italia (MI:) shares fell 3.5 percent to the bottom of the as a battle between two of its top shareholders, Vivendi (PA:) and Elliott, ramped up ahead of an AGM later in the day.
Construction materials group Saint-Gobain got a boost from Barclays (LON:) upgrading it to “overweight”, while Finland’s Konecranes rose 5.4 percent after UBS raised it to “buy”.
Among small-caps, German steel trader Kloeckner & Co climbed 12.4 percent after saying it expects higher sales and core earnings this year.
Swiss baked goods firm Aryzta jumped 10.9 percent after it reported its U.S. margin grew for the first time since 2014.
But shares in Italian luxury goods company Tod’s fell 3.2 percent after it reported a 26 percent decline in profit as marketing costs rose.
(Graphic: Europe earnings growth expectations MARCH 12 link: https://tmsnrt.rs/2UEKSck).
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