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Oil jump helps London markets shrug off Freedom Day delay

·3-min read

The FTSE 100 soared to a new one-year high as leaps by the oil majors helped to offset any concerns about delays to the further easing of UK pandemic restrictions.

Travel, leisure and hospitality stocks took a beating as a result of Government plans to hold off the fourth stage of its road map out of lockdown until next month.

London’s top flight closed 12.62 points higher, or 0.18%, at 7,146.68 on Monday.

Chris Beauchamp, chief market analyst at IG, said: “European markets have held their ground while Wall Street continues to struggle, picking up a theme from last Friday.

“Oil’s resilience in the face of warming US-Iran relations suggests that the supply dynamic continues to play second-fiddle to the expectation that demand will keep building into the second half of the year.

“Growth forecasts have remained stable, and traffic levels continue their recovery to, or in some cases above, pre-Covid levels.”

Brent crude increased by 0.74% to 73.23 dollars per barrel.

The bounce in oil prices helped drive Royal Dutch Shell and BP towards the top of the equity markets.

Elsewhere in Europe, the Dax also lifted to a new record high despite a largely muted trading session.

The German Dax increased by 0.02% and the French Cac moved 0.32% higher.

Across the Atlantic, the Dow Jones nudged cautiously lower as traders kept their powder dry ahead of this week’s key Fed meeting.

Meanwhile, sterling continued its recent subdued spell as the delay to easing lockdown appeared to shock few members of London’s trading community.

The pound was 0.01% higher versus the US dollar at 1.411 and decreased by 0.02% against the euro to 1.164.

In London, hospitality operators Whitbread, Restaurant Group and JD Wetherspoons all slumped as traders were also concerned about a lack of extended financial support despite the road map delay.

In company news, fashion firm Ted Baker dropped in value after it revealed its sales collapsed as shoppers moved away from occasion clothing and office-wear.

It reported a 44% slump in revenues to £352 million for the year to January as its pre-tax losses widened by around 29%, as it was also weighed down by enforced store closures.

Shares in the company were 13.1p lower at 153.3p at the close of play.

Outsourcing giant Serco climbed after it raised its profit forecasts on the back of growing demand for Covid-19 track and trace provisions.

The FTSE 250 firm saw shares rise by 6.3p to 142p after it said profits are now on track to be around £200 million for the year, representing a £15 million improvement since previous forecast.

Spirits firm Distil lifted in value after it reported a 48% increase in revenues for the past year, helping to drive profit growth.

Shares rose by 0.15p to 2.4p at the end of the session.

The biggest risers on the FTSE 100 were Royal Dutch Shell A, up 38p at 1,458.4p, Royal Dutch Shell B, up 34p at 1,393.6p, Intermediate Capital Group, up 51p at 2,340p, and Halma, up 56p at 2,791p.

The biggest fallers on the FTSE 100 were IAG, down 8.48p at 194.72p, Rolls-Royce, down 4.58p at 107.36p, ABF, down 65p at 2,292p, and Informa, down 13.2p at 530p.

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