(Alliance News) - Stocks in London ended higher on Monday with travel stocks among the gainers against a backdrop of rising coronavirus cases in India.
India is battling a catastrophic, record-breaking outbreak that has overwhelmed hospitals and set crematoriums working at full capacity.
Authorities in northern Italy announced Monday they had identified two cases of the Indian variant of coronavirus, in a father and daughter recently returned from India.
The news follows reports of another case in the central region of Tuscany last month, and comes after the Italian government banned arrivals from the virus-hit country.
The FTSE 100 index closed up 24.56 points, or 0.4%, at 6,963.12. The FTSE 250 ended up 205.08 points, or 0.9%, at 22,577.34. The AIM All-Share closed up 9.74 points, or 0.8%, at 1,275.36.
The Cboe UK 100 ended up 0.5% at 693.50, the Cboe UK 250 closed up 1.1% at 20,201.10, and the Cboe Small Companies ended up 0.2% at 14,484.00.
In Paris the CAC 40 ended up 0.3%, while the DAX 30 in Frankfurt ended up 0.1%.
In the FTSE 100, travel-related stocks ended the best performers following a report in the New York Times over the weekend which pointed to a potential return of transatlantic travel.
US tourists vaccinated against Covid-19 will be able to visit the EU in the coming months, European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen said in an interview on Sunday.
Signalling a major change in EU policy as vaccinations step up worldwide, von der Leyen gave no timetable, but the Times said that the new rules could be in place by this summer.
Signalling a major change in EU policy as vaccinations step up worldwide, von der Leyen gave no timetable, but the New York Times said that the new rules could be in place by this summer.
The EMA, the bloc's drug regulator, has approved the three vaccines being used in the US - Moderna, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson.
The Times report said the US's rapid vaccination program, and progress in talks over how to use vaccine certificates, were behind the plan to allow the return of leisure travel from the US to EU.
Jet engine maker Rolls-Royce closed up 6.0%, while British Airways parent International Consolidated Airlines ended 4.2% higher. Airlines pay Rolls-Royce for engine services depending on how many hours their engines spend in the air.
Midcap budget airline easyJet closed up 4.3%, while Irish carrier Ryanair closed up 1.9%.
On the continent, Germany's Deutsche Lufthansa closed up 3.8% in Frankfurt and Franco-Dutch airline Air France KLM finished 1.0% higher in Paris.
Pearson closed up 2.8% after the education publisher posted a sales hike in its first-quarter, though it noted that it saw more Covid-19 damage at the start of 2021 than it did a year earlier.
Pearson only began to be gripped by Covid-19 disruption towards the end of the first-quarter of 2020. This time around however, virus restrictions were in place throughout all of the period.
Despite this, sales rose 5% annually on an underlying basis during the first quarter of the year. Pearson posted 25% growth in its Global Online Learning unit and a 1% hike in North American Courseware. In Global Assessment and International, sales fell 2%.
In the FTSE 250, IMI ended the standout performer, up 11%. The engineer raised its 2021 guidance and announced a GBP200 million share buyback programme after first-quarter sales jumped.
The dollar started the week on the back foot against major counterparts. The pound was quoted at USD1.3885 at the London equities close, up from USD1.3847 at the close Friday.
The euro stood at USD1.2075 at the European equities close, up from USD1.2062 late Friday. Against the Japanese yen, the dollar was trading at JPY108.18, down from JPY108.34 late Friday.
Stocks in New York were higher at the London equities close, carrying on positive momentum from Friday after strong readings for US manufacturing and services sector activity.
The DJIA was up 0.1%, the S&P 500 index up 0.2% and the Nasdaq Composite up 0.4%.
US earnings season kicks up a gear this week with reports from a slew of household names, as Elon Musk's Tesla reports on Monday after the closing bell. Tesla shares were up 1.1% in New York.
This will be followed by software firm Microsoft and Google-owner Alphabet on Tuesday, iPhone-maker Apple and social media platform Facebook on Wednesday, and e-commerce firm Amazon.com on Thursday. Ending the week are results from oil majors Exxon Mobil and Chevron on Friday.
In addition, market participants will be looking ahead to the US Federal Reserve's two-day meeting ending Wednesday, before the US posts its latest economic growth readings later this week.
Brent oil was trading at USD65.50 a barrel at the equities close, down sharply from USD66.09 late Friday.
"Crude oil has dropped however as virus cases in India hit 1 million in just three day, with investors worried that demand from one of the world's largest consumers will be hurt as a result," explained ThinkMarkets analyst Fawad Razaqzada.
Gold was quoted at USD1,777.60 an ounce at the London equities close, little changed against USD1,776.95 late Friday.
The economic events calendar on Tuesday has annual results from Premier Inn chain owner Whitbread, alongside first-quarter results from Asia-focused bank HSBC Holdings and oil major BP.
The UK corporate calendar on Tuesday has an interest rate decision from the Bank of Japan overnight and a US monthly house price index print at 1400 BST.
By Arvind Bhunjun; email@example.com
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