London midday: Stocks extend gains as travel sector recovers
London stocks had extended gains by midday on Monday, recovering some ground after worries about the new Omicron Covid variant sent markets tumbling at the end of last week.
The FTSE 100 was up 1.2% at 7,126.01, having slumped more than 3% on Friday.
IG market analyst Joshua Mahony said: "Weekend commentary out of South Africa signal the potential that the new variant may have traded increased transmissibility for a less dangerous set of symptoms. The potential for a less deadly form of the virus does appear to provide some respite to the risk-off sentiment dominating Friday’s trade.
"However, the weeks ahead are fraught with danger for investors, with traders now likely to see any major updates associated with this new variant as a priority over most other economic data points. Nonetheless, while we are likely to see further knee-jerk reactions on a market level, we are only likely to gain a full picture on the risks of this variant in the coming weeks."
In equity markets, travel and hospitality shares were on the rise, having fallen heavily on Friday, with BA owner IAG, Premier Inn owner Whitbread, cruise operator Carnival, WH Smith, Wizz Air, Tui, Cineworld and Restaurant Group all higher.
BT was still the biggest gainer on the FTSE 100 even after India’s Reliance Industries refuted a report that it was considering buying the London-listed telecoms group. The Economic Times reported that billionaire Mukesh Ambani's Reliance might make an unsolicited offer or try to get a controlling stake in the company. However, Reliance said it does not intend to bid for BT.
Johnson Matthey rallied on a report that India’s Tata Chemicals is interested in buying the company’s batteries business. According to the Mint newspaper, the batteries business could fetch between $500m and $700m.
Hammerson pushed higher after the property company confirmed it is in discussions over the possible disposal of Silverburn, its flagship destination near Glasgow, which is held in a 50/50 joint venture with CPPIB. It also confirmed the pricing under discussion is £140m and added "there can be no certainty that a transaction will take place".
Venture capital tech specialist Molten Ventures jumped as it reported a rise in net asset value (NAV) for the six months to September 30 on the back of a sharp rise in cash investments.
FTSE 100 - Risers
BT Group (BT.A) 164.90p 7.08%
Johnson Matthey (JMAT) 2,167.00p 4.89%
Compass Group (CPG) 1,523.50p 4.82%
International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (CDI) (IAG) 137.30p 4.49%
BP (BP.) 328.45p 3.40%
Intermediate Capital Group (ICP) 2,178.00p 3.27%
JD Sports Fashion (JD.) 1,138.00p 3.27%
Royal Dutch Shell 'B' (RDSB) 1,605.80p 3.17%
Whitbread (WTB) 2,926.00p 3.14%
Royal Dutch Shell 'A' (RDSA) 1,604.80p 3.12%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Hargreaves Lansdown (HL.) 1,399.50p -1.55%
Polymetal International (POLY) 1,354.50p -1.31%
London Stock Exchange Group (LSEG) 6,774.00p -1.11%
AstraZeneca (AZN) 8,329.00p -0.97%
Sainsbury (J) (SBRY) 290.90p -0.92%
Unilever (ULVR) 3,917.50p -0.86%
Hikma Pharmaceuticals (HIK) 2,265.00p -0.57%
Reckitt Benckiser Group (RKT) 6,153.00p -0.53%
Avast (AVST) 598.60p -0.53%
Abrdn (ABDN) 236.90p -0.50%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Carnival (CCL) 1,269.00p 7.29%
WH Smith (SMWH) 1,395.50p 6.45%
Cineworld Group (CINE) 51.56p 6.38%
Wizz Air Holdings (WIZZ) 3,957.00p 6.11%
Capita (CPI) 46.03p 5.57%
TUI AG Reg Shs (DI) (TUI) 208.60p 5.09%
Restaurant Group (RTN) 81.30p 4.77%
Hammerson (HMSO) 31.89p 4.69%
IP Group (IPO) 117.20p 4.64%
Airtel Africa (AAF) 126.90p 4.62%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Bodycote (BOY) 817.50p -3.25%
AO World (AO.) 108.50p -1.36%
Grainger (GRI) 307.20p -0.97%
Assura (AGR) 68.95p -0.72%
BB Healthcare Trust (Red) (BBH) 191.80p -0.62%
Hochschild Mining (HOC) 131.30p -0.61%
Network International Holdings (NETW) 277.50p -0.57%
Micro Focus International (MCRO) 386.80p -0.54%
TI Fluid Systems (TIFS) 219.50p -0.23%
Reach (RCH) 265.50p -0.19%