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24 Feb 2021 | 16:02

London close: Stocks higher as travel and leisure stocks rise further

(Sharecast News) - London stocks finished in the green on Wednesday as sterling was mixed, with results from the likes of Reckitt Benckiser and Lloyds in focus.

The FTSE 100 ended the session up 0.5% at 6,658.97, and the FTSE 250 was 1.21% firmer at 21.312.65.

Sterling was last 0.16% weaker against the greenback, trading at $1.4090, while it managed gains of 0.02% on the euro to change hands at €1.1616.

A stronger pound tends to dent the top-flight index as around 70% of its constituents derive most of their earnings from overseas.

"European markets have had a much better tone today after a rather mixed session yesterday," said CMC Markets chief market analyst Michael Hewson.

"What hasn't changed is the underlying bid tone to travel and leisure stocks which are continuing to build on their recent gains with another strong session."

Hewson noted that among the best performers on the FTSE 100 was British Airways owner IAG, ahead of the release of its full year results this Friday, as demand for flights started to pick up in anticipation of a much better second half for 2021.

"While all of these gains are very welcome, with easyJet and Ryanair shares also doing well, the fact remains that while capacity is likely to increase over the course of the rest of the year, what airlines like IAG really want to see is a resumption of business travel, and it's hard to see how that can return to normal any time soon."

In equity markets, InterContinental Hotels was knocked 1.45% lower by a downgrade to 'hold' at Deutsche Bank a day after its full-year results.

Vodafone fell 3.42% after confirming that it plans to float its European tower infrastructure company, Vantage Towers, on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange before the end of March.

Aviva was in the red by 0.48% as it said it was exiting its Turkish business, a day after announcing the sale of its French unit.

Consumer goods giant Reckitt Benckiser lost 1.47% even after it posted a surge in full-year revenues, as demand for cleaning and hygiene products spiked during the pandemic.

On the upside, shopping centre owners British Land and Land Securities rose 3.75% and 4/13% amid news that non-essential stores in England will reopen in April.

Lloyds Bank managed to break back into positive territory during afternoon trading, closing up 0.01% after it reported a 72% slump in annual profits, reflecting the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, but reinstated dividend payments.

Housebuilders Barratt, Taylor Wimpey and Persimmon were up by 1.58%, 1.62% and 1.43%, respectively, amid reports the stamp duty holiday will be extended until the end of June.

Travel & leisure stocks were on the rise again amid the prospect of easing restrictions, with British Airways owner IAG up 4.01%, tour operator TUI surging 12.79%, and Carnival 10.47% higher.

Office space provider Workspace was also in the black by 6.51%, amid expectations that workers will begin returning to offices in the next few months.

Tesco was boosted 1.47% by an upgrade to 'outperform' at Credit Suisse, while Irish convenience food company Greencore rallied 5.61% after an upgrade to 'buy' at HSBC.

Market Movers

FTSE 100 (UKX) 6,658.97 0.50% FTSE 250 (MCX) 21,312.65 1.21% techMARK (TASX) 4,034.38 0.44%

FTSE 100 - Risers

BP (BP.) 298.80p 5.40% Rolls-Royce Holdings (RR.) 111.90p 4.92% Land Securities Group (LAND) 682.60p 4.13% International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (CDI) (IAG) 188.90p 4.02% Royal Dutch Shell 'B' (RDSB) 1,428.80p 3.78% British Land Company (BLND) 520.40p 3.75% Barclays (BARC) 164.70p 3.39% Royal Dutch Shell 'A' (RDSA) 1,481.60p 3.33% Smith (DS) (SMDS) 383.50p 3.28% Johnson Matthey (JMAT) 3,185.00p 2.47%

FTSE 100 - Fallers

Vodafone Group (VOD) 125.50p -3.42% Rentokil Initial (RTO) 470.00p -2.43% Experian (EXPN) 2,326.00p -2.22% Unilever (ULVR) 3,839.00p -2.07% Ocado Group (OCDO) 2,290.00p -2.06% United Utilities Group (UU.) 887.20p -1.93% SEGRO (SGRO) 944.20p -1.85% Pennon Group (PNN) 884.00p -1.69% Reckitt Benckiser Group (RB.) 5,910.00p -1.47% InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) 5,168.00p -1.45%

FTSE 250 - Risers

TUI AG Reg Shs (DI) (TUI) 449.00p 12.79% Hammerson (HMSO) 25.60p 12.73% Carnival (CCL) 1,645.50p 10.47% Capita (CPI) 44.81p 7.77% Rank Group (RNK) 174.20p 6.74% Workspace Group (WKP) 815.50p 6.51% Network International Holdings (NETW) 395.00p 6.29% Dixons Carphone (DC.) 120.00p 6.10% easyJet (EZJ) 988.00p 6.07% GCP Student Living (DIGS) 157.40p 5.50%

FTSE 250 - Fallers

SSP Group (SSPG) 343.20p -6.89% C&C Group (CCR) 261.50p -4.23% JPMorgan Japanese Inv Trust (JFJ) 671.00p -4.14% Aston Martin Lagonda Global Holdings (AML) 2,020.00p -3.80% Kainos Group (KNOS) 1,308.00p -3.67% Vivo Energy (VVO) 89.50p -2.72% Future (FUTR) 1,934.00p -2.03% Avon Rubber (AVON) 2,850.00p -1.57% Essentra (ESNT) 305.60p -1.43% Cineworld Group (CINE) 94.90p -1.43%
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