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FTSE 100 slips, lockdown exit plan boosts travel stocks

02/22/2021 | 12:22pm

(Reuters) - London's FTSE 100 slipped on Monday, but recovered from early lows as British Prime Minister Boris Johnson set out a phased plan to end England's COVID-19 lockdown, boosting travel-related stocks.

After falling as much as 1.2% after a jump in commodity prices sparked fears of a spike in inflation, the blue-chip FTSE 100 cut losses in afternoon trading as Johnson unveiled a roadmap to exit the lockdown.

Johnson said the first stage would prioritise schools returning on March 8, when only minimal socialising outdoors would be allowed.

The final step, when most restrictions would be lifted, would not start until June 21 at the earliest.

British Airways owner IAG jumped 7.5% to the top of FTSE 100, while InterContinental Hotels, Wizz Air and Cineworld gained between 3.9% and 8.9%.

The pound hit three-year highs against the dollar, leaving the exporter-heavy FTSE 100 index down 0.2% at the close. [GBP/]

"Boris' slow and cautious plan to put the UK economy back on its feet has been greeted with a small bounce off the lows for the FTSE 100, but for this index to thrive, it will need a much broader global reopening effort," said Chris Beauchamp, chief market analyst at IG.

British health officials said England's vaccine campaign is significantly reducing cases, with a drop of around 70% in coronavirus infections among healthcare workers who have had a first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech shot.

The FTSE 100 has recovered nearly 34% from its March 2020 lows and is nearly 15% away from its highest level last year, following record stimulus measures and vaccine rollouts.

However, rising bond yields and expectations of a pick-up in inflation and growth have weighed on global equity markets in recent weeks.

Oil heavyweights BP and Royal Dutch Shell jumped more than 2% as crude prices gained. [O/R]

The mid-cap index fell 0.3%, with G4S Plc sliding 9.8% as Allied Universal won a months-long takeover battle for the world's largest private security firm after Canada's GardaWorld said it would not raise its offer.

(Reporting by Shivani Kumaresan and Amal S in Bengaluru; editing by Uttaresh.V and Barbara Lewis)

By Shivani Kumaresan and Amal S

© Reuters 2021
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