London open: FTSE little changed but travel, leisure stocks hit by Covid worries
London stocks were little changed in early trade on Monday, with travel and leisure shares under the cosh amid concerns about the Covid-19 crisis, as investors mulled the latest data out of China.
At 0830 GMT, the FTSE 100 was down 0.1% at 6,726.85.
CMC Markets analyst Michael Hewson said: "Over the weekend reports out of Germany suggested the prospect of a night time curfew was being considered, after France imposed its own lockdown curfew from 6pm in the evening last week. The UK government also tightened its own lockdown rules, closing all travel corridors into the country starting at 4am this morning, and imposing strict testing and quarantine restrictions on anyone entering the country."
He added that concerns over the levels of US vaccine reserves, along with reports on Friday that vaccine deliveries in Europe were being pared back due to short term supply constraints also weren’t helping.
Investors were digesting the latest data out of China, which showed the economy grew by 2.3% in 2020 in a sharp rebound from the coronavirus pandemic which tore through the country in the early part of the year.
The annual growth rate was the lowest since the Chinese economy shrank by 1.6% at the end of the Cultural Revolution in 1976, but was in stark contrast to the performance of other major economies, all of which have reported contractions as they struggle to battle the crisis.
Growth accelerated in the final quarter, with the economy expanding 6.5% year on year ahead of analysts’ forecasts of 6.2%, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said.
It was also a marked change from the first quarter of 2020, when the economy shrank by 6.8%, in the first quarterly contraction since records began.
NBS chief Ning Jizhe said that "the main targets of economic and social development [in 2020] have been completed better than expected”.
"China is expected to become the only one major economy in the world to achieve positive economic growth throughout the year," said Ning, adding that quarterly GDP growth “have returned to the normal level”.
Retail sales grew 4.6% on the year in December, down from 5% growth in November. Meanwhile, industrial production was up 7.3% in December versus 7% growth the month before. Analysts had been expecting a 5.5% jump in retail sales and a 6.9% increase in industrial production.
In equity markets, travel and leisure stocks were the biggest fallers amid worries about the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and related restrictions after the UK closed all travel corridors until at least 15 February. British Airways parent IAG, budget airlines easyJet and Wizz Air, travel company TUI and cruise operator Carnival were all sharply lower.
Elsewhere, BT was in the red following reports over the weekend that it is facing a class action lawsuit over claims it failed to compensate elderly customers overcharged for landlines.
Centrica lost ground after it said chief financial officer Johnathan Ford has quit in the middle of a turnaround plan for the energy supplier. Ford has stepped down with immediate effect for personal reasons.
On the upside, Just Eat Takeaway and Ocado - both of which have benefited from lockdowns and restrictions - were among the top risers.
Animal genetics company Genus rallied as it said profit growth for the year ending 30 June 2021 is set to be ahead of its previous expectations following a strong first-half trading performance.
Chemring was boosted by an upgrade to ‘overweight’ at Barclays.
Telecommunications testing firm Spirent ticked just a touch higher after it said full-year profits were set to be in line with expectations after a strong fourth quarter driven by work on 5G infrastructure.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Just Eat Takeaway.Com N.V. (CDI) (JET) 8,002.00p 1.65%
Spirax-Sarco Engineering (SPX) 11,615.00p 1.57%
Polymetal International (POLY) 1,679.50p 1.27%
Experian (EXPN) 2,715.00p 1.23%
Auto Trader Group (AUTO) 572.80p 1.20%
Rentokil Initial (RTO) 526.80p 1.15%
Avast (AVST) 539.50p 1.12%
Ferguson (FERG) 9,364.00p 1.06%
London Stock Exchange Group (LSE) 9,228.00p 1.03%
Ocado Group (OCDO) 2,537.00p 0.96%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (CDI) (IAG) 158.50p -2.31%
BT Group (BT.A) 138.00p -2.02%
Royal Dutch Shell 'A' (RDSA) 1,457.40p -1.73%
BP (BP.) 297.45p -1.65%
Royal Dutch Shell 'B' (RDSB) 1,398.20p -1.54%
Rolls-Royce Holdings (RR.) 104.50p -1.32%
Vodafone Group (VOD) 126.00p -0.96%
Glencore (GLEN) 277.45p -0.88%
Standard Chartered (STAN) 486.00p -0.76%
HSBC Holdings (HSBA) 400.30p -0.73%
FTSE 250 - Risers
PureTech Health (PRTC) 398.50p 4.46%
Tritax Big Box Reit (BBOX) 183.80p 4.31%
Elementis (ELM) 118.50p 3.86%
Babcock International Group (BAB) 228.00p 3.50%
Dixons Carphone (DC.) 123.50p 3.43%
Petrofac Ltd. (PFC) 124.50p 3.11%
Polar Capital Technology Trust (PCT) 2,330.00p 2.87%
Chemring Group (CHG) 308.50p 2.83%
LXI Reit (LXI) 119.00p 2.59%
Indivior (INDV) 118.10p 2.43%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
easyJet (EZJ) 804.80p -3.27%
TUI AG Reg Shs (DI) (TUI) 392.50p -2.65%
Carnival (CCL) 1,280.00p -2.44%
John Laing Group (JLG) 320.00p -2.32%
Centrica (CNA) 49.51p -2.19%
Micro Focus International (MCRO) 419.20p -1.73%
Beazley (BEZ) 343.60p -1.66%
CMC Markets (CMCX) 420.50p -1.64%
Wizz Air Holdings (WIZZ) 4,314.00p -1.60%
Cranswick (CWK) 3,432.00p -1.49%