British shares log weekly loss as commodity, travel stocks weigh

Commodity stocks, strong retail sales data boost UK shares
Commodity stocks, strong retail sales data boost UK shares Copyright Thomson Reuters 2021
By Reuters
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By Bansari Mayur Kamdar and Devik Jain

-London stocks slipped on Friday, dragged down by commodity and travel shares on concerns around fresh COVID-19 curbs in Europe, while rising bets about rate hikes following strong economic data pushed the FTSE 100 index to its first weekly loss in four.

The blue-chip FTSE 100 closed 0.5% lower, while the domestically focussed mid-cap FTSE 250 index ended 0.4% down.

Oil majors BP and Shell slipped 2.9% and 3.1%, respectively, as crude prices sank amid a resurgent pandemic in Europe. Banks dropped 1.7%. [O/R]

Carriers Ryanair, British Airways-owner IAG, Wizz Air, EasyJet, Holiday Inn owner, Premier Inn owner Whitbread and caterer Compass Group slipped between 2.3% and 5.2% after Austria said it will reimpose a full COVID-19 lockdown, while neighbouring Germany warned it may follow suit to tackle a new wave of infections.

Lockdown anxiety also overshadowed data showing British retail sales in October rose by more than expected, adding to recent signs that a slowdown in the economy might have abated slightly.

Retailers like WH Smith PLC and Ocado Group rose 1.2% and 6.8%, respectively.

"People are bringing forward purchases they would have made in November and December. Consumers are being very cautious because of the uncertainty around the economy, high inflation, squeezing household incomes, squeezing disposable incomes and higher taxes," said Craig Erlam, analyst at Oanda.

"We should not get carried away with today's retail sales figures because it's not indicative of a big consumer driven rebound to come."

The data came at the heels of a hotter inflation reading and solid jobs report earlier this week which cemented expectations of an interest rate hike in December.

Bogged down by inflationary pressures and supply chain problems, the FTSE 100 has gained just 11.9% this year, underperforming its European and U.S peers. The index also logged its biggest weekly drop since mid-August.

Among other stocks, Kingfisher tumbled 4.4% after the home improvement retailer reported a 2.4% fall in like-for-like sales in the three months to Oct. 31.

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