For the economy as well as the coronavirus pandemic, we look to be past the worst – barring, of course, a second peak. The relief is palpable for millions of savers and pensioners who have watched helplessly as stock markets here and overseas plunged in March.
But a faltering recovery has gathered pace. This week the FTSE 100 Index, comprising global companies, rose above 6,100 points. It is still well shy of the 7,600-plus level prevailing in early March. But it has now clambered up by 23 per cent from its low on March 23. The 250 Index of medium-sized UK-economy-facing companies has rallied by just over a third (34 per cent) from its March 19 low.
Of particular note are that airlines, hotels and consumer stocks – the sectors most devastated by the pandemic and subsequent lockdown – continued to dominate the FTSE’s leaders.
Shares in British Airways owner International Consolidated Airways Group sported a 19 per cent gain earlier this week, while budget airline Easyjet flew 11 per cent higher to 618p. The Intercontinental Hotel Group advanced 10 per cent while cruise operator Carnival gained nine per cent. But the star performer was travel operator Tui which put on a Lazarus-like performance, with its shares rising 38 per cent.
Chief executive Fritz Joussen said it could now “plan holidays for Majorca, the Spanish mainland, and the Canary Islands”.
Markets.com analyst Neil Wilson said strength in the travel sector “underscores confidence among investors that economies are reopening, and consumers are keen to travel. There is a lot more hope that travel restrictions across Europe will be eased in time for the summer holidays”. Scotland’s desperate hotel and tourism sector can only hope that such lifting of travel restrictions becomes a two-way street before long.
Meanwhile, there was encouraging news from the EY Scotland Attractiveness Survey that we increased inward investment in 2019 at a faster pace than the UK and with a greater share of UK projects.
Glasgow has bounced up the ranks to third most-attractive UK city, excluding London, followed by Edinburgh in fourth and Aberdeen in seventh. Bowed we may be, but far from beaten.
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