Energy, travel stocks drag UK shares lower; AstraZeneca rises

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imageStock Markets3 hours ago (Mar 22, 2021 09:35)

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The London Stock Exchange Group offices are seen in the City of London

By Shivani Kumaresan

(Reuters) -London’s FTSE 100 inched lower on Monday, dragged down by energy stocks as oil prices slipped over fears of slowing fuel demand, while a warning from a minister that Britons should wait before booking international travel weighed on travel stocks.

The commodity-heavy FTSE 100 index slipped 0.3%, with oil heavyweights BP (LON:BP) and Royal Dutch Shell (LON:RDSa) being the biggest drags on the index. [O/R]

Travel and leisure stocks including British Airways-owner IAG (LON:ICAG), EasyJet and Intercontinental Hotels were also among the biggest laggards, falling between 1.8% and 6.5%. [MET/L]

Britons should wait before booking summer holidays abroad, social care minister Helen Whately warned, pointing out that there were rising COVID-19 infection rates in Europe.

“It is also going to be messy for any kind of international travel,” said Neil Wilson, chief market analyst at Markets.com.

“After we had a really good run-off in these stocks on the optimism of vaccines and various other reasons, investors are worried that the summer season might be over before it’s even begun.”

The FTSE 100 has rebounded nearly 37% from a coronavirus-driven crash last year on vaccine-led optimism, but has struggled to reach pre-pandemic highs as commodity prices, lockdown measures and rising U.S. bond yields weigh.

The domestically focused mid-cap FTSE 250 index fell 0.2%, dragged down by industrials stocks.

Drugmaker AstraZeneca (NASDAQ:AZN) gained 1.2%, after its COVID-19 vaccine was found 79% effective in a large U.S. trial at preventing symptomatic illness, and was 100% effective against severe or critical disease and hospitalisation.

Home improvement retailer Kingfisher (LON:KGF) rose 4.5% to the top of the blue-chip index, after posting a 44% jump in full-year profit driven by the popularity of do-it-yourself projects during the pandemic.

Food delivery company Deliveroo could make Britain’s biggest stock market debut since commodities giant Glencore (LON:GLEN) went public nearly a decade ago, after setting a price range that values it at up to $12 billion.

Energy, travel stocks drag UK shares lower; AstraZeneca rises

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