Shares in hard-hit travel and leisure stocks bounced after Boris Johnson delivered his outline for lifting lockdown, stage by stage, across the whole of England.
Under the plans, there will be little respite for non-essential businesses in March.
And at every stage the dates that have been given are the very earliest re-openings and could be delayed. But shops, hairdressers and gyms will be among the first to benefit from April 12 – when pubs and restaurants will also be able to run an ‘al fresco April’.
The Gym Group jumped 3.8 per cent, or 9.5p, to 259.5p, while Wetherspoons rose 8.3 per cent, or 102p, to 1338p and Marston’s by 2.4 per cent, or 2.2p, to 92.95p on the news.
Travel abroad could resume as early as May 17 and people could be visiting cinemas, attending festivals and clubbing to their heart’s content by the end of June.
The City had not set its expectations high before the roadmap was announced, particularly for the travel industry.
But hopes that summer holidays could be back on the cards turbo-charged shares in tourism stocks including British Airways-owner IAG (up 7.5 per cent, or 12.35p, to 178.1p – the top riser), Tui (up 8.7 per cent, or 31.1p, to 387.9p), Carnival (up 8.2 per cent, or 118p, to 1556p) and Easyjet (up 7.3 per cent, or 61p, to 892.2p).
Premier Inn-owner Whitbread rose 3.4 per cent, or 116p, to 3534p, and Holiday Inn-owner Intercontinental Hotels Group went up by 4 per cent, or 202p, to 5312p,
And Rolls-Royce – which gets paid for the hours its plane engines fly – was the second highest riser on the FTSE 100 leaderboard (rising 6.9 per cent, or 6.79p, to 105.45p). Cineworld raced to the top of the FTSE 250 index, betting on film fans wanting to go out to see a summer blockbuster, rising 9 per cent, or 7.26p, to 88.04p.
And conferences giant Informa climbed 5.4 per cent, or 27.6p, to 536.6p on the hope that businesses and venues could finally start scheduling events for later this year.
Unfortunately, the afternoon rallies were not enough to keep the two main indexes in the black.
The Footsie fell 0.2 per cent, or 11.78 points, to 6612.24, while the FTSE250 ended the first session of the week down 0.3 per cent, or 54.87 points, to 20981.09.
One of the strategies the Government is considering to help keep to this schedule is some form of Covid status certificates – a digital ID card that could say if someone had been vaccinated or tested negative.
Ministers have previously downplaying the idea.
But junior market-listed Catenae Innovation was one of the big winners from this U-turn, surging almost to the top of the AIM AllShare Index after it was asked by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport to participate in a project to explore the idea. Catenae has been working on this type of technology since last spring.
Its stock rallied 73.7 per cent, or 1.4p, to close at 3.3p last night.
Pharma giant Glaxosmithkline failed to rouse the interest of shareholders (falling 0.8 per cent, or 9.8p, to 1205.4p) as it kicked off another trial on its Covid vaccine with French group Sanofi.
Big miners including Chilean copper miner Antofagasta (up 1.7 per cent, or 31.5p, to 1869.5p) made gains as prices of the red metal soared above $9,000 a tonne for the first time in almost 10 years – fuelled by worries that a supply shortage could be looming.
High Street retailer Shoe Zone sank 9.6 per cent, or 6.8p, to 64.2p after the abrupt departure of aptly named finance director Peter Foot two weeks before it releases its annual results.
He had been in the role for seven months. No reason was given for his exit.
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