News of the delay to Brexit was positively received by travel stocks in London on Thursday, as the deadline was pushed back to after summer.
The EU and the UK agreed to a further delay of the process, extending to October 31. The UK could leave earlier if a withdrawal agreement is ratified by MPs before then.
Travel companies were the top three highest risers on the FTSE 100 index, with Easyjet climbing 88.5p to 1,144.5p, Tui up 59.2p to 775.4p and British Airways owner International Consolidated Airlines (IAG) up 30.4p to 545.4p.
David Madden, market analyst at CMC Markets UK, said: “It seems that consumers and the company’s management can act with a bit of certainty in the busy summer period.”
But overall, London’s blue-chip index was broadly flat, dropping 3.96 points or 0.05% to 7,417.95.
Meanwhile the pound appeared nonplussed by the day’s political developments. The currency dipped 0.04% to 1.160 euros and was down 0.15% versus the dollar to 1.307.
Connor Campbell, financial analyst at Spreadex, said sterling was “neither tricked nor treated”.
“Both the currency and businesses alike now want to see some actual, tangible, anxiety-easing progress towards an exit plan, not just a rehash of May’s despised deal.”
In company news, Ted Baker announced the conclusion of its investigation into the conduct of founder and former boss Ray Kelvin, identifying “several areas for improvement” in the clothing retailer’s HR practices. It also confirmed that Lindsay Page, who has been acting chief since Mr Kelvin’s departure, will become permanent CEO. Shares were down 28p to 1,460p.
WH Smith’s half-year profits fell 21% after being stung by costs linked to its acquisition of InMotion and a restructuring programme. Shares were 48p higher at 2,186p.
Shares in clothing brand Quiz shot 3.6p higher to 21p as it said its concessions will not be affected by the administration of Debenhams and reported rapid annual sales growth.
Intu announced that finance executive Barbara Gibbes will become interim chief financial officer from late April. Ms Gibbes, a former financial controller at Domino’s Pizza Group, is currently director of finance at Intu, having joined in early 2017. Following the announcement, the group’s shares were up 1p at 103.3p.
Shares in Digitalbox, the company behind the Daily Mash, were up 0.1p to 7p after the firm said it is performing ahead of expectations. Digitalbox said its Entertainment Daily business saw “strong advertising and audience growth” and resulted in the celebrity gossip site reporting underlying earnings of £433,000 and revenue of £2 million.
Oil prices were down but continued to benefit from lower Venezuelan output.
A barrel of Brent crude oil was down 0.84% at 70.96 US dollars.
In Europe, the French Cac was 0.66% higher and the German Dax was up 0.25%.
The biggest risers on the FTSE 100 were Easyjet up 88.5p to 1,144.5p, Tui up 59.2p to 775.4p, International Consolidated Airlines (IAG) up 30.4p to 545.4p and Persimmon up 87p to 2,264p.
The biggest fallers on the FTSE 100 were Fresnillo down 62.2p to 798.4p, Standard Life Aberdeen down 9.3p to 266.6p, Aviva down 13.4p to 416.5p and ITV down 4.15p to 131.25p.