CRH gains on Obama's infrastructure plans

Irish building materials group CRH was one of the best performers on the FTSE 100 on Wednesday afternoon on the back of optimism around US infrastructure after President Barack Obama called for more investment in the industry.

Irish building materials group CRH was one of the best performers on the FTSE 100 on Wednesday afternoon on the back of optimism around US infrastructure after President Barack Obama called for more investment in the industry.

In his State of the Union address last night, Obama unveiled a new 'Fix it First' programme, pledging $50bn to repair damaged bridges, roads and railways.

CRH, with a market capitalisation of nearly £10bn, is highly exposed to the US economy, with just under 50% of its first-half sales coming from the Americas region (which grew by 21% during the period).

As well as supplying products for home repair, maintenance and improvement, the company is also heavily involved in the infrastructure markets, providing aggregates, cement and ready-mix concrete.

Shares had jumped 61p to 1,417p by 15:03, up 4.5% on the day.

Irish industrial production, BlackrockHelping gains on Wednesday was the news that CRH's domestic market of Ireland registered the biggest increase in industrial production in December when compared to the wider Eurozone.

While industrial output rose 0.7% month-on-month across the single-currency region, Irish production increased an impressive 8.5%.

In other news, in a press release at midday, CRH notified the market that asset management giant BlackRock had increased its stake in the firm to over 5.0% in a transaction over a year ago, buying up seven million shares.

CRH, which is due to release its full-year results on February 26th, is expected to report revenue of €18,720m for 2012, down from €20,992m the year before. Pre-tax profit is expected to slump from €1,904m to just €640m.

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