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Investors frown as pubs welcome customers back inside

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England’s pubs welcomed customers back inside for the first time in months on Monday, but investors in the City of London were less taken by the sector’s future.

Worries about a possible spread of the Indian variant of Covid-19 made shareholders sell their pub stocks.

Wetherspoon, Marston’s, City Pub Group and Fuller, Smith & Turner were all fairly deep in the red by the end of trading in London.

The impact was felt elsewhere across the companies that have been the worst impacted by the Covid-19 crisis, including hotels and travel companies.

By the end of the day, Whitbread, which owns Premier Inn; International Hotel Group; and Restaurant Group, the company behind Wagamama and Frankie & Benny’s, were also down.

They were joined by IAG, the owner of British Airways, and Rolls-Royce, which makes plane engines.

The travel and hospitality companies in the FTSE 100 were pulling against a boom in the mining sector. The index finally settled at 7,032.85.

It was a 10.76 reduction on Friday’s closing, or a 0.2% drop.

The subdued mood was reflected on other global markets.

In New York, the S&P 500 and Dow Jones indexes were both trading down around 0.5% when trading ended in London.

In Europe, the Dax fell 0.1% while the Cac was down 0.3%.

After an afternoon a barrel of Brent crude oil cost 0.8% more, at 69.24 dollars.

Sterling was as good as flat against two major counterparts. At the end of the day, it bought 1.4123 dollars or 1.1625 euros.

BT found itself as one of the best performers on the FTSE 100 after its boss bought an additional £2 million stake in the company. Shares closed up 2.8%.

British Airways’ boss Sean Doyle said that official travel advice was unclear on Monday morning. Shares in his parent company, IAG, dropped 3.7%.

Ryanair avoided quite the same level of damage, closing down 2.8% after reporting its worst ever loss.

GSK shares rose 0.7% after it released positive results from the phase 2 trial of its Covid-19 vaccine.

Vistry shares fell 0.8% despite the housebuilder saying it expects annual profits to beat expectations.

Hollywood Bowl shares dipped 1.9% after its revenue dipped from £69 million to £12 million in the six months to the end of March.

The biggest risers on the FTSE 100 were Fresnillo, up 30.6p at 915.8p; Polymetal, up 47p at 1,646p; BT Group, up 4.5p at 166.2p; Rio Tinto, up 140p at 6,275p; and Sainsbury’s, up 5.5p at 264.5p.

The biggest fallers on the index were Rolls-Royce, down 4.66p at 102.98p; Antofagasta, down 76.5p at 1,702p; IAG, down 7.22p at 189.68p; Whitbread, down 95p at 3,085p; and Weir, down 54.5p.