FTSE 100 closes higher as Boris Johnson confirms England's 'Freedom Day' on 19 July

Britain's prime Minister Boris Johnson gives an update on relaxing restrictions imposed on the country during the COVID-19 pandemic at a Downing Street Briefing Room in central London on 12 July. Photo: Daniel Leal-Olivas/Pool/AFP via Getty
Britain's prime Minister Boris Johnson gives an update on relaxing restrictions imposed on the country during the COVID-19 pandemic at a Downing Street Briefing Room in central London on 12 July. Photo: Daniel Leal-Olivas/Pool/AFP via Getty

European stock markets were in the green as England confirmed final lockdown restrictions will be lifted in July despite mounting fears over the spread of the delta variant across the world.

Prime minister Boris Johnson was set to confirm 19 July reopening in a public announcement later on Monday.

The FTSE 100 (^FTSE) closed less than 0.1% up after trading in the red all day as health secretary Sajid Javid said England's day of freedom will be on 19 July.

Javid said the summer and the school holidays is the right time to get closer to normal life. "We firmly believe this is the right time to get our nation closer to normal life, so we will move to the next stage of our road map on July 19," he said.

Travel companies weighed London's bluechip index, with British Airways parent International Consolidated Airline Group (IAG.L) declining 2.6%, while jet engine maker Rolls-Royce (RR.L) slumped 4%.

Mining stocks also fell, with Antofagasta (ANTO.L) crashing 3.2%, Evraz (EVR.L) falling 2.6%, Anglo America (AAL.L) declining 2.4% and Glencore (GLEN.L) dipping 2%.

"In light of the events of the last few days, and the rise in Delta variant cases, optimism over the economic rebound, and possible tightening appears to have shifted markedly to concern further measures from central banks could well be needed from some central bankers to support the economy as we head towards year end," said Michael Hewson, chief analyst at CMC Markets.

Elsewhere in Europe, France’s CAC (^FCHI) was up 0.5%, and the DAX (^GDAXI) rose 0.7% in Germany.

It comes as European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde told investors to prepare for new guidance on monetary stimulus in 10 days, over the weekend.

"With ECB president Christine Lagarde declaring at the weekend that the ECB would be reviewing its policy guidance at next week’s meeting on 22 July, with the PEPP likely to see some tweaks in order to support the recovery into and through 2022," Hewson added.

Read more: UK enjoys COVID recession wealth boom as savings rise by £200bn

Oil prices slipped after a two-day gain as investors assessed the demand outlook amid as infections rise across the world. Both benchmarks brent and crude fell 1.7% to $74.30 (£53.62) and $73.28 respectively.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and their allies (OPEC+) did not reach an agreement to increase output from August.

It comes after finance chiefs of the G20 large economies warned on Saturday the spread of coronavirus strains and unequal access to vaccines threaten the global economic recovery.

Across the Atlantic, US stocks opened mixed on Monday as investors await US banks earnings reports, key inflation data and Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell’s semi-annual appearance before Congress.

Wall Street’s blue-chip S&P 500 (^GSPC) climbed 10.49 points or over 0.2%, while the Dow Jones (^DJI) gained 0.2% after the opening bell. Meanwhile, the tech-heavy Nasdaq (^IXIC) opened flat.

It came as Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell reiterated on Tuesday that the recent increase in inflation will likely be temporary. Powell told the Congress that the central bank will wait for actual inflation to take root before raising interest rates.

Asian stocks rose at the start of the week as China’s central bank moved to boost liquidity.

Shanghai Composite (000001.SS) was up just over 0.6% after the Chinese central bank cut the level of reserves commercial banks must hold, freeing up money for lending as forecasters anticipate China's economic rebound might be weakening. The Hang Seng (^HSI) rose over 0.7%, while the Nikkei (^N225) advanced 2.3% in Japan.

Watch:Cases could double but Javid defends end of Covid rules