Travel companies and shop landlords gain on hopes of end to lockdown

PA City Staff

Tuesday proved a happier day than Monday on London’s top index as investors in companies that have been hit by Covid-19 celebrated the UK’s potential road map out of lockdown.

Travel companies and commercial landlords were among the best performers of the day after the Government unveiled plans which could open to non-essential retail opening up soon, with international travel somewhere in the future.

British Land and Land Securities, as well as smaller peer Hammerson, were boosted by investors looking forward to the opening of shopping centres, said CMC Markets analyst Michael Hewson.

It helped propel the FTSE 100 to a 0.2% rise by the end of the day, up 13.7 points to 6,625.94.

Although international travel is still some way off, British Airways owner IAG and aeroplane engine maker Rolls-Royce also saw comfortable gains.

Both easyJet and Tui, travel companies whose Covid-19 worries have seen them ejected from the FTSE 100 into the FTSE 250, registered strong growth.

It helped send the smaller index up by 0.4%, a better performance than the FTSE 100.

“Over the last three days this renewed buoyancy has been evident in anticipation of a possible reopening, and with a set of deadlines to focus on, there is a renewed sense of optimism that we could well see an end point for restrictions which would mark a slow return to some sort of normal,” Mr Hewson said.

However, the joys of a potential economic reopening was less evident than it might have been because of losses made by largely digital companies that have thrived through lockdown.

Online supermarket Ocado dropped 2.75%, joined in the red by Paddy Power and Betfair owner Flutter Entertainment and food delivery business Just Eat Takeaway.com.

The FTSE’s gain came in the face of a fairly broad international sell-off.

Across the pond, New York’s S&P 500 had lost 0.9% as markets closed in Europe, while the Dow Jones dropped 0.6%.

Germany’s Dax fell 0.7%, while only the Cac in Paris joined the FTSE to buck the trend, registering a 0.2% rise.

On currency markets, the pound rose 0.2% to buy 1.4092 US dollars and gained 0.3% to buy 1.1604 euros.

The cost of Brent crude oil rose 0.2% to 65.34 US dollars per barrel.

Among London’s companies, HSBC reported a 34% drop in pre-tax profit for last year, but brought back dividends, sending shares down by 0.9% by the end of the day.

Shares in Intercontinental Hotels Group, which owns Holiday Inn, were dragged down 1.6% after it said that revenue dropped 52% last year, pushing it to a 153 million dollars (£109 million) operating loss.

Aviva announced plans to sell its French unit for 3.2 billion euros (£2.8 billion) to Aema Groupe.

The insurance giant’s shares remained flat.

Shares in Sports Direct owner Frasers Group rose 1.2% even as the firm said that keeping Covid-19 restrictions in place until April 12 could cost it more than £100 million.

The biggest risers on the FTSE 100 were British Land, up 25.8p at 501.2p; Land Securities, up 27.9p at 655.5p; Pennon Group, up 31.4p at 899.2p; Informa, up 18.6p at 555.2p; and Barclays, up 4.92p at 159.18p.

The biggest fallers on the FTSE 100 were Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust, down 64p at 1,203p; Pershing Square, down 85p at 2,545p; Polymetal, down 44p at 1,497.5p; Ocado, down 66p at 2,335p; and Avast, down 12.2p at 462.4p.

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