FTSE stable but airlines battered

London’s top index shrugged off a collapse in its European cousins on Monday, as it started off the week with more or less no change.

The FTSE 100 closed the day down a meagre 0.2%, or 9.28 points, to 5,753.78.

Airline stocks took some of the biggest hits, with easyJet falling 7.2%, and British Airways owner IAG losing 5.2% of its value.

Rolls-Royce, which makes plane engines, also dropped heavily, by 6.9%.

It was a tough day for many airlines across the world. The main US carriers – Delta, American, Southwest and United Continental – were all in the red.

It came after legendary investor Warren Buffett revealed he had sold massive stakes in the companies, said David Madden, an analyst at CMC Markets.

“The savvy investor said he has no interest in holding stocks that ‘chew through money’,” Mr Madden said.

Even Air France took a hit after the EU approved its seven billion euro (£6.1 billion) bail-out from the French government.

It was part of a wider drop in France, where the main index, the Cac 40, lost 4.2% of its value. The Dax index in Germany was also badly hit, dropping by 3.6%.

“In contrast, the FTSE had a rather easy time of it,” said Connor Campbell, an analyst at Spreadex.

In the US markets also fell, with the S&P 500 down 0.3, and the Dow Jones dropping 0.8% shortly after markets closed in the UK.

Brent oil cost 26.58 US dollars per barrel at the end of the market day in London, up around 0.5%.

In company news, shares in cruise giant Carnival fell by almost 4% as it announced one of its subsidiaries plans to resume sailings in August.

Carnival Cruise Line will get eight ships back into service, it said. The Carnival group also owns P&O Cruises and Cunard, which have suspended all cruises until at least the end of July.

Travel news continued to dominate as shares in car dealership Pendragon slipped 7% after it abandoned talks with rival Lookers over a potential merger.

The day was not much sweeter for sugar maker Tate & Lyle which fell by 4.6% after revealing that March trading was rather unaffected by coronavirus, but that April had brought “significant changes in demand patterns”.

Hotel Chocolat notched up a 3% gain on the news that online sales surged in the days running up to Easter. Though the chocolate maker said it was not enough to fully offset the shutting of its shops in the face of coronavirus.

Finally, Financial Reporting Council revealed it has opened an investigation into EY over its audit of troubled healthcare firm NMC Health, which tumbled into administration last month. NMC was a member of the FTSE 100 until its collapse. It has since been delisted from the London Stock Exchange.

The biggest risers on the FTSE 100 were Hikma, up 132p to 2,383p, Ocado, up 72.5p to 1,687.5p, GlaxoSmithKline, up 51.8p to 1,663p, Royal Dutch Shell ‘A’, up 33.8p to 1,265.4p, and Smith & Nephew, up 38.5p to 1,544p.

The biggest fallers on the FTSE 100 were Informa, down 33.8p to 416p, EasyJet, down 41p to 527p, Rolls-Royce, down 21.7p to 291.4p, IAG, down 11.1p to 203.9p, and Flutter Entertainment, down 496p to 9,484p.