Travel stocks were granted a much-needed reprieve after weeks of chaos.
As investors reeled from the worst first six months of a year for equity markets on record, airlines and other holiday groups staged something of a mini-rally.
Cruise company Carnival – owner of the Cunard shipping line – rose 6 per cent, or 37.2p, to 656.8p, though it remains down more than 50 per cent this year.
Sailing: Cruise company Carnival – owner of the Cunard shipping line – rose 6 per cent
It was chased higher on the FTSE 250 by Wizz Air (up 6 per cent, or 104.5p, to 1858.5p), Easyjet (up 2.8 per cent, or 10.3p, to 376.9p) and British Airways owner IAG (up 1.1 per cent, or 1.22p, to 108.84p).
Travel group Tui was also on the rise, up 3.6 per cent, or 4.7p, at 137.15p, as it repaid £581m of cash support it was given by the German government to stay afloat.
Details of the repayment came a week after boss Friedrich Joussen said he will step down after nearly ten years in the job.
The rally will come as some relief for investors in the travel industry who have suffered a torrid time since Covid struck.
But with holidaymakers and business travellers also enduring months of chaos – from cancelled flights to lost luggage and lengthy queues – a turnaround in fortunes may be some way off.
To make matters worse, strikes by BA staff at Heathrow threaten to disrupt the summer holiday plans of millions.
Richard Hunter, head of markets at Interactive Investor, said: ‘People are trying to travel but are currently often being thwarted by the airlines themselves.
‘Pent up demand is clearly still in evidence from customers, and airlines have much ground to cover in recouping lost revenues arising from the pandemic. In the meantime, and in line with wider markets, investors can expect a turbulent time in the coming months.’
The gains in the travel sector – small as they may be – did little for the wider stock market with the FTSE 100 barely shifting, down 0.01 per cent, or 0.63 points, at 7168.65 and the FTSE 250 down 0.16 per cent, or 29.8 points, at 18,636.98.
It followed a sell-off in the previous session, which rounded off the worst quarter on the London market since the early days of the pandemic when share prices tumbled worldwide.
Losses so far this year are even heavier on Wall Street, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average suffering its worst first-half since 1962 and the S&P 500 down by the most since 1970.
AJ Bell investment director Russ Mould urged investors to hold their nerves.
He said: ‘This is not a time to panic. Stock markets go up and down, businesses go through good and bad cycles, and economic growth certainly does not travel in a straight line.
‘The key is patience and hopefully the current state of despair will fix itself in time.’
Back in London, mining stocks weighed on the top index as copper prices tumbled to a 17-month low having suffered the worst quarter since 2011 with a 20 per cent fall in the three months to the end of June. Shares in Glencore fell 4.2 per cent, or 18.75p, to 426.35p, Fresnillo slid 1.2 per cent, or 9.4p, to 757.4p and Endeavour Mining slumped 3.7 per cent, or 63p, to 1639p.
Among the mid-cap stocks, defence firm Chemring breathed a sigh of relief after fraud investigators ended a four-year probe without prosecution.
The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) looked into allegations of bribery, corruption and money laundering at Chemring in 2018.
The company was ‘pleased’ with the outcome. Shares gained 1.6 per cent, or 5p, to 320p.
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