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What to watch: Travel and leisure stocks leap, Vodafone 'resilient,' UK house prices

Tom Belger
·Finance and policy reporter
·4-min read

Watch: European stocks rise on vaccine hopes

Here are the top business, market, and economic stories you should be watching today in the UK, Europe, and around the world.

COVID-19-hit travel and leisure stocks leap on vaccine hopes

Travel, leisure and banking stocks jumped on Monday, as the most coronavirus-hit sectors continued to rally after last week’s vaccine breakthrough.

Promising results from a potential coronavirus vaccine trial by Pfizer (PFE) and BioNTech’s (BNTX) sparked a rally on global markets early last week, boosting the worst-affected sectors.

The gains tailed off towards the end of the week, but stocks made a fresh drive higher on Monday.

A woman holds an umbrella as she walks past a Cineworld in Leicester's Square, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in London, Britain, October 4, 2020. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls
Shares in Cineworld and other coronavirus-hit companies rose on Monday. Photo: REUTERS/Henry Nicholls

Cinema giant Cineworld (CINE.L), which temporarily shuttered all its UK and Irish cinemas last month amid tighter restrictions, led gains on the FTSE 250 (^FTMC). Travel companies on the index also surged, with cruise operator Carnival (CCL.L) up 8.3%, EasyJet (EZJ.L) up 5%, and TUI (TUI.L) up 4.1%.

On the FTSE 100 (^FTSE), British Airways owner IAG (IAG.L) jumped 6.6%, while planemaker Rolls-Royce (RR.L) led gains, up 65.7%. Premier Inn owner Whitbread (WTB.L) was up 4.8%, and Intercontinental Hotels (IHG.L) was trading 3.8% higher.

UK-listed banks also saw gains on hopes of sooner-than-expected economic recovery from a vaccine, with Standard Chartered (STAN.L), Lloyds (LLOY.L), HSBC (HSBA.L), Barclays (BARC.L), and NatWest (NWG.L) all rising more than 2% in morning trading.

WATCH: Pfizer vaccine effectiveness as ‘game changer’

Coronavirus hit on roaming charges hurts Vodafone

Vodafone’s (VOD) posted a 2.3% decline in first-half revenue to €21.4bn ($25.4bn, £19.2bn), as the coronavirus impacted the money it makes from roaming and handset sales.

But the company’s share price ticked up roughly 4% on Monday morning, helping to boost the FTSE 100 0.6%.

Nick Read, group CEO, spoke of “increased confidence” in the company’s full year outlook.

The mobile operator said a “good underlying momentum” and the benefit from the acquisition of Liberty Global’s assets in Germany and Central and Eastern Europe was offset by lower revenue from roaming, handset sales, foreign exchange headwinds and the disposal of Vodafone New Zealand.

Read said: “COVID-19 and the reduction in roaming revenues, through the significant reduction in international travel, is currently obscuring our underlying commercial progress.”

UK house prices fall despite strong demand driven by second lockdown

UK house price fell by 0.5% this month, despite the second lockdown in England driving strong demand as sellers rush to beat a stamp duty deadline.

Property website Rightmove (RMV.L) said that the average price of property coming to market this month was down by £1,505 ($1,980) compared to last month.

Despite the dip, asking prices are still 6.3% higher than a year ago. Across Britain, the average asking price for a home coming to market in November was £322,025.

The first six days of England’s lockdown saw demand up 49% on 2019, according to Rightmove.

Stocks rise on vaccine hopes and strong Chinese factory growth

European stocks followed Asian markets higher on Monday, lifted by stronger-than-expected Chinese factory data, the signing of a new Asia-Pacific trade deal and vaccine hopes.

The FTSE 100 (^FTSE) rose 0.6% in London at the open, while the DAX (^GDAXI) gained 0.7% in Frankfurt and the CAC 40 (^FCHI) rose 1% in Paris.

New data showed industrial output in China rose quicker than expected by analysts in October, up 6.9% year-on-year. Retail sales came in lower than expected at 4.3% growth, but still marked the fastest annual rate of expansion this year.

Commodity stocks were among the biggest risers in the UK in morning trading on hopes of stronger demand, with Glencore (GLEN.L) up 3.1% and Antofagasta (ANTO.L) up 3%. European oil and gas firms on the Stoxx 600 index were up 1.1%, outperforming the 0.7% gains on the wider index.

Meanwhile 15 countries including almost a third of the global population signed the world's largest regional free trade deal on Sunday, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership.

In Asia overnight, Japan’s Nikkei (^N225) rose 2.1%, the Hong Kong Hang Seng (^HSI) rose 0.7%, and the Shanghai Composite (000001.SS) gained 1.1%. South Korea’s KOSPI (^KS11) rose 2%. Meanwhile in Australia, the ASX 200 (^AXJO) gained 1.2%.

What to expect in the US

US futures were also pointing to a higher open. S&P 500 futures (ES=F) were up 0.8% as European markets opened, while Dow Jones futures (YM=F) rose 1% and Nasdaq futures (NQ=F) gained 0.6%.

Deutsche Bank analysts said US gains could reflect comments by two of president-elect Joe Biden's advisers, who said they opposed national lockdown restrictions despite rising infections.