London markets tail off despite improvements by leisure stocks

The tepid end to the week continued as London’s markets closed lower despite an uptick for leisure firms ahead of Freedom Day on July 19.

London’s top flight briefly slumped below the 7,000 for the first time since last month but closed only marginally down for the day as some of the week’s poorest performers recorded mild rebounds.

The FTSE 100 closed 3.93 points, or 0.06%, lower at 7,008.09 on Friday.

Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets UK, said: “European stocks have undergone another week of choppiness without actually going anywhere, finishing the week on the back foot in the process.

“The DAX and Stoxx600 may well have posted new record highs, however in the last four weeks we’ve barely gone anywhere, and finished in the red.

“Today we have seen a bit of an end of week pullback in the weakest sectors, with a bit of a rebound in hospitality, notably Premier Inn owner Whitbread, and Holiday Inn owner Intercontinental Hotels amongst the best performers.”

In mainland Europe, the major markets slumped heavily as the continued rise in coronavirus cases provided a further dent to market sentiment.

The German Dax decreased by 0.57% and the French Cac moved 0.51% lower.

Meanwhile in the US, hopes for a new in-session high for the Dow Jones were scuppered almost immediately by a notable sell-off.

Sterling dropped to its weakest levels of the week as it was hindered by resilience in the US dollar.

The pound was down 0.04% versus the US dollar at 1.378 and was 0.05% lower against the euro at 1.167.

Airlines were broadly positive as another dire week briefly abated, with hopes that the easing of restrictions on Monday can drive positivity.

In company news, Burberry slumped despite reporting that its sales have returned to pre-pandemic levels.

The luxury brand said it had been boosted by selling more products at full price, relying less on discounts, and seeing rich Asian and American shoppers spending in local stores rather than travelling to Europe to buy the latest trench coat.

Investors were still somewhat unconvinced and shares dipped by 104p to 1,966p.

Direct-to-consumer mattress firm Eve Sleep slid as sales growth slowed down in the first half of 2021.

It closed 0.8p lower at 3.8p despite revealing that total sales increased by 13% to £13.9 million over the six months to June 30, as it was boosted by 18% growth in its UK and Ireland business.

Heavily shorted cinema chain Cineworld finally made ground amid hopes that the loosening of capacity restrictions could help its recovery. Shares finished 5.62p higher at 62.94p.

The price of oil lifted marginally but it was still one of the worst weeks for the sector since March, on the back of concerns over international travel and the prospect of an Opec+ agreement to boost supply.

Brent crude increased by 0.38% to 73.79 dollars per barrel.

The biggest risers on the FTSE 100 were DCC, up 140p at 6,030p, Avast, up 13.8p at 609.4p, Rentokil, up 11.6p at 518.6p, and Reckitt Benckiser, up 139p at 6,485p.

The biggest fallers of the day were Burberry, down 104p at 1,966p, Glencore, down 11.05p at 309p, Rio Tinto, down 211p at 5,931p, and Anglo American, down 84p at 2,889p.