(Sharecast News) - Stocks have turned around to trade higher after the head of the European Commission signaled that the European Union may open its borders to non-essential travel from the US by summer.
Continuing growth in Covid-19 case numbers in India however were still dragging on sentiment.
The number of new Covid-19 infections in India hit a fifth consecutive daily record on Monday of 352,991.
"Meanwhile, the EU decision to allow US vaccinated travellers does highlight a gradual willingness to wake international air travel from its drawn-out slumber," said IG Senior Market Analyst, Joshua Mahony.
"Unfortunately, India highlights the risks involved when vaccination levels are low, with daily cases rising from 47k to 321k in the space of a month. Until vaccinations build a strong base layer of protection, countries will have to continue the fine balancing act that involves knowing greater economic freedom will often come with higher risk of widespread infections."
At noon, the FTSE 100 was bumping up against the flatline, rising 0.02% or 1.9 points to 6,940.46, while the FTSE 250 was up 0.32% or 72.01 points at 22,444.74.
Overnight, Commission head, Ursula von der Leyen said that US tourists with proof of vaccination may be allowed to resume travel in summer.
In an interview with the New York Times, von der Leyen said: "The Americans, as far as I can see, use European Medicines Agency-approved vaccines.
For his part, Jeffrey Halley at Oanda said that the situation in India and elsewhere could feed into the US central bank's calculus when its top officials met on Wednesday to decide on policy.
So too with rate-setters at the Bank of Japan who were due to meet on the next day.
"Those expecting hints of a Fed taper will be sorely disappointed with the FOMC likely to be in "we told you so" mode," Halley said.
"Net-net, the Bank of Japan and FOMC should be positive for the buy-everything trade."
Still ahead on the economic calendar for later on Monday, at 1330 BST the US Department of Commerce was scheduled to release a reading on durable goods orders figures in March.
And on the earnings front, US electric carmaker Tesla was due to update investors after the close of markets in New York.
Traders were also awaiting on the latest earnings announcement from a raft of other tech giants, including Apple, Microsoft, Amazon and Alphabet, which were scheduled for throughout the remainder of the week.
That was on top of a raft of economic data and a keenly awaited seven-year Treasury debt auction on Tuesday.
IMI ups guidance and approves share buyback plan
IMI announced a £200m share buyback and raised its guidance for annual earnings after group performance improved in the first quarter. The FTSE 250 company predicted earnings per share of between 81p an 87p a share - up from an earlier estimate of 75p to 82p. Organic revenue rose 7.7% in the three months to the end of March to £421m from a year earlier and 2.6% compared with the first quarter of 2019.
Tate & Lyle on Monday confirmed reports it was planning to sell a controlling stake in its primary products division to a "long term financial partner". The 100-year-old firm said it believes that if a deal was completed it would enable Tate & Lyle and the new business "to focus their respective strategies and capital allocation priorities and create the opportunity for enhanced shareholder value".
Educational publisher Pearson reported underlying first quarter revenue growth of 5% driven by demand for global online learning. The company on Monday said its online division revenue increased 25% with strong growth in Virtual Schools due to enrolment growth in the current school year in Partner Schools as well as in US district partnerships. International sales were down 2% with a decline in English as Covid-19 continued to impact Pearson's courseware and franchise business in Latin America, despite courseware recovery in China.
AstraZeneca said on Monday that the phase 3 trial for 'nirsevimab' met its primary endpoint of a statistically significant reduction in the incidence of medically-attended lower respiratory tract infections caused by respiratory syncytial virus compared to placebo, in healthy late preterm and term infants. The FTSE 100 pharmaceutical giant also announced that 'selumetinib' had been recommended for conditional marketing authorisation in the EU for the treatment of symptomatic, inoperable plexiform neurofibromas in paediatric patients with neurofibromatosis type-1.
Standard Life Aberdeen said it would change its name to "Abrdn plc", dumping one of the oldest and best-known names in the savings and investment industry. The Scottish asset manager said the new name was pronounced "Aberdeen" and would replace five brands including for all customer-facing businesses. Chief Executive Stephen Bird said the brand was "modern, dynamic and, most importantly, engaging". The roll-out will start in summer 2021 with a revamped logo and the company will adopt a new stock exchange ticker.
Informa has agreed to combine its financial intelligence business with Novantas, a US advisory services business, to provide data and information for US retail banks. The deal is arranged as an acquisition of Novantas by Informa and Inflexion, a private equity firm, on a cash- and debt-free basis. Informa will contribute its FBX business, whose assets have a fair value of $243m. When the acquisition is completed Informa will own 57% of the combined business. The trade show and information group is not paying any cash or deferred payment as part of the transaction. The deal is expected to complete by the end of June.
FTSE 100 (UKX) 6,936.59 -0.03%
FTSE 250 (MCX) 22,452.38 0.36%
techMARK (TASX) 4,358.20 -0.11%
FTSE 100 - Risers
Rolls-Royce Holdings (RR.) 105.76p 4.13%
International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (CDI) (IAG) 203.20p 3.28%
Evraz (EVR) 666.40p 3.22%
Pearson (PSON) 825.60p 3.20%
Informa (INF) 563.40p 2.40%
Melrose Industries (MRO) 167.10p 2.36%
Antofagasta (ANTO) 1,868.50p 2.22%
British Land Company (BLND) 521.20p 2.16%
Weir Group (WEIR) 1,980.50p 1.64%
JD Sports Fashion (JD.) 920.20p 1.47%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Diageo (DGE) 3,234.00p -1.90%
Coca-Cola HBC AG (CDI) (CCH) 2,486.00p -1.89%
United Utilities Group (UU.) 941.00p -1.84%
Ocado Group (OCDO) 2,206.00p -1.34%
Pershing Square Holdings Ltd NPV (PSH) 2,680.00p -1.29%
Hikma Pharmaceuticals (HIK) 2,362.00p -1.25%
British American Tobacco (BATS) 2,701.00p -1.21%
Unilever (ULVR) 4,065.50p -1.18%
Croda International (CRDA) 6,860.00p -1.13%
Smith & Nephew (SN.) 1,476.00p -1.11%
FTSE 250 - Risers
IMI (IMI) 1,525.00p 9.09%
Tate & Lyle (TATE) 802.20p 5.97%
Lancashire Holdings Limited (LRE) 693.00p 4.37%
Sanne Group (SNN) 651.00p 3.50%
TUI AG Reg Shs (DI) (TUI) 402.50p 3.44%
easyJet (EZJ) 1,015.00p 2.95%
Beazley (BEZ) 335.80p 2.85%
Hammerson (HMSO) 39.06p 2.82%
TBC Bank Group (TBCG) 1,088.00p 2.64%
Cineworld Group (CINE) 97.82p 2.26%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
FirstGroup (FGP) 85.85p -2.53%
Petropavlovsk (POG) 27.16p -2.51%
UK Commercial Property Reit Limited (UKCM) 75.00p -1.83%
Drax Group (DRX) 407.00p -1.74%
SSP Group (SSPG) 339.50p -1.68%
Syncona Limited NPV (SYNC) 225.00p -1.53%
AJ Bell (AJB) 434.20p -1.50%
Pantheon International (PIN) 2,640.00p -1.49%
Apax Global Alpha Limited (APAX) 201.50p -1.47%
Genus (GNS) 5,150.00p -1.44%
LONDON MARKET CLOSE: Flat finish as miners, travel lift FTSE off lows