MARKET REPORT: Shares in Easyjet fly on summer holiday hopes

Shareholders cheered as the budget carrier Easyjet said Britons can bank on going abroad this summer.

In one of the most upbeat predictions from an airline yet, boss Johan Lundgren believes holidaymakers will be able to visit ‘almost all major European countries’ by the time leisure travel restarts in May.

The City has become increasingly nervous about the Government’s proposed ‘traffic light’ system, which will categorise countries into green, yellow and red lists. All will require Covid tests but yellow countries will also require isolation on returning home, and red will involve hotel quarantine stays.

Easjet boss Johan Lundgren believes holidaymakers will be able to visit ‘almost all major European countries’ by the time leisure travel restarts in May

But Lundgren insisted that relatively free movement between the UK and beach favourites including Spain, France, Portugal and Croatia should be achievable, and that they would be on the green list despite vaccinations in Europe lagging behind Britain.

The airline will fly 20 per cent of its normal schedule between April and June. A bigger risk, according to Lundgren, would be requiring pricey PCR Covid tests, which can cost £120 per person.

The Government’s travel strategy is still being hammered out, but Lundgren warned that expensive testing risks ‘turning back the clock and making travel too costly for some’.

Stock Watch – Immotion

Wallace & Gromit studio Aardman Animations will clean puppets and props using high-tech cabinets supplied by AIM-listed Immotion.

The cabinets use ultraviolet rays to safely disinfect delicate kit. 

For Aardman, this will include the puppets for the new Shaun the Sheep movie.

Immotion’s other customers include the NHS and Hewlett Packard, for cleaning its virtual reality headsets. 

Shares rose 13.9 per cent, or 0.75p, to 6.15p after the deal, which was for an unspecified amount.

In a first-half trading update, Easyjet lost around £700million over the winter after second Covid waves grounded flights.

Revenues tumbled 90 per cent to £235million in the six months ending March, as passenger numbers fell by 89pc to 4.1m. 

It will post a loss of about £700million. The shares rose 5.8 per cent, or 54p, to 978p, making it one of the top risers on the FTSE 250 yesterday.

But it was pipped to the post by Tullow Oil, which barrelled to the top of the mid-cap leaderboard as crude prices surged by 5 per cent to $67 a barrel.

The crude rally was prompted by the International Energy Agency raising its forecast for oil demand this year though it is still cautious about vaccine roll-outs and the rising cases in Asia as well as Europe.

Tullow jumped 9.4 per cent, or 4,26p, to 49.64p, and there were rises for BP (up 3.4 per cent, or 10.1p, to 308.35p) and Royal Dutch Shell (up 2.8 per cent, or 36.6p, to 1365.2p).

The FTSE 100 index closed 0.7 per cent higher, up 49.09 points, to 6939.58, while the FTSE 250 rose 0.4 per cent, or 86.99 points, to 22,355.45.

Another mid-cap winner was the high-tech defence company Qinetiq. Shares in the Farnborough-based company, which was spun out of the Ministry of Defence and is said to have been the inspiration for the character Q in James Bond, climbed 8.9 per cent, or 28.6p, to 349.6p, after it upgraded its annual profit forecasts.

Recruiter Robert Walters was also in demand, rising 6.3 per cent, or 40p, to 674p, after revealing it too would beat expectations.

It is the third firm in the sector this week, following Page Group – up 0.7 per cent, or 4p, to 544.5p – and Hays, which climbed 0.4 per cent, or 0.6p, to 166p, to report that hiring activity has picked up.

Elsewhere, Barclays fell prey to a ‘blink and you’ll miss it’ share price plunge.

Its stock tumbled by 10 per cent early in the morning in an incident chalked up as a ‘fat finger’ error, which is when a trader presses the wrong key while putting through a trade. But it ended the day 0.4 per cent higher, up 0.76p, to 187.58p.

British fashion house Burberry was boosted by strong figures from French conglomerate LVMH. 

It rose 1.2 per cent, or 25p, to 2086p, after an update from the Louis Vuitton-owner showed luxury spending had rebounded in Asia and the US at the start of 2021.

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