By Devik Jain
(Reuters) – London’s FTSE 100 edged lower on Monday, dragged by heavyweight energy and industrial stocks, while shares of Diploma Plc jumped after the company gave an upbeat earnings update.
The blue-chip index fell 0.4% as oil majors BP and Royal Dutch Shell slipped after crude prices declined. [O/R]
Banks and aero stocks were among the biggest losers on the index.
The domestically focused FTSE 250 index traded flat. Shares of technical products and services provider Diploma jumped 7.3% to the top of index after it forecast annual results ahead of expectations.
“It’s a big day for many businesses as the UK lifts more COVID-19-related restrictions. This should have been cause for celebration, but all eyes are on the Indian variant and whether the government is going to impose new lockdowns, be it localised or national,” said Russ Mould, investment director at AJ Bell.
“Businesses will have to make hay while the sun shines, albeit interspersed by lots of dark clouds.”
Broadly, from Monday, most Britons will be free once again to hug, albeit cautiously, drink in their pub, sit down to an indoor meal or visit the cinema after a series of lockdowns that imposed the strictest restrictions in peacetime history.
However, Prime Minister Boris Johnson served notice that the spread of the coronavirus variant first identified in India meant that the final UK reopening in June could be delayed.
After rising nearly 11% this year on reopening optimism, the FTSE 100 has pared some of those gains in the last few sessions on concerns around resurgence in virus cases across the globe and sooner-than-expected tightening of ultra-loose monetary policies to curb inflation.
Among other stocks, homebuilder Vistry Group added 1.9% after it raised its annual profit forecast on strong demand.
Novacyt jumped 7.9% after the French biotechnology group said UK’s National Health Service will use its product for detecting COVID-19.
(This story refiles to correct typographical error in headline)
(Reporting by Devik Jain in Bengaluru; editing by Uttaresh.V)