What to watch: Travel stocks plummet, Kingfisher gets DIY boost, European markets fall amid vaccine row

LaToya Harding
·4-min read
British Airways Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner passenger aircraft as seen on final approach flying, touching down, landing and taxiing in Amsterdam Schiphol AMS EHAM International airport in the Netherlands at Polderbaan runway. The wide-body modern and advanced airplane of BA has the registration G-ZBJG and is powered by 2x RR Rolls Royce jet engines. British Airways is the flag carrier of the United Kingdom UK connecting London Heathrow in England to the Dutch city Amsterdam. BAW Speedbird is owned by IAG International Airlines Group and is member of Oneworld aviation alliance. The world passenger traffic declined during the coronavirus covid-19 pandemic era with the industry struggling to survive. Amsterdam, Netherlands on November 18, 2020 (Photo by Nicolas Economou/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
France, Germany and Italy announced further lockdown measures over the weekend while experts warned that overseas summer holidays for Brits were looking "unlikely". Photo: Nicolas Economou/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Here are some of the top business, market, and economic stories you should be watching today in the UK, Europe, and around the world.

Travel stocks plummet

European travel stocks tumbled into the red on Monday as the prospect of extended lockdowns across the bloc weighed on sentiment.

France, Germany and Italy announced further lockdown measures over the weekend while experts warned that overseas summer holidays for Brits were looking "unlikely."

Government scientist Dr Mike Tildesley said that the UK faces a "real risk" if people travel abroad, while travel secretary Grant Shapps said it was "too early to tell" when foreign travel might be back on.

"I think we are running a real risk if we do start to have lots of people going overseas in July, for instance, and August because of the potential for bringing more of these new variants back into the country," Tildesley said.

"What is really dangerous is if we jeopardise our vaccination campaign by having these variants, where the vaccines don't work as effectively, spreading more rapidly."

British Airways owner IAG (IAG.L) tumbled 6% on the back of the news, while EasyJet (EZJ.L), Ryanair (RYA.L), Tui (TUI.L) all took similar falls.

IAG stock tumbled 6% on Monday morning. Chart: Yahoo Finance
IAG stock tumbled 6% on Monday morning. Chart: Yahoo Finance

On the continent, German airline Lufthansa (LHA.DE) and Air France (AF.PA) was more than 3% lower.

READ MORE: UK government hands English tourism hotspots £56m 'welcome back' boost

UK holiday bookings surged following prime minister Boris Johnson's announcement of a roadmap out of lockdown a month ago.

Under the current UK roadmap, the earliest date people in England could plan to go abroad would be 17 May.

Michael Hewson of CMC Markets said: "While the prospect of a big European restart on the summer holidays front was always a long shot, events over the weekend have made the prospect even more remote, as the prospect of a third wave across Europe pushes the prospect of any sort of economic restart into the back end of the second quarter."

Kingfisher gets DIY boost

The rise of shed offices and "a new generation of DIY'ers" that has emerged during the COVID-19 pandemic has boosted sales at B&Q.

Shares in its owner Kingfisher (KGF.L) jumped on Monday after the company reported strong sales and said it was confident recent momentum would continue.

Kingfisher, which also owns Screwfix and other home improvement brands in Europe, said sales rose by 7.2% last year to reach £12.3bn ($17bn). Gross profit rose 7.5% to £4.5bn in the 12 months to 31 January 2021. Pre-tax profit improved a huge 634% to £756m.

The chain is planning on opening another 50 stores in the UK and Ireland, focusing on opportunities in inner cities and rural areas.

Kingfisher saw growth across all markets and brands last year despite COVID-19 driven shutdowns. The company launched a restructure in June and invested in online sales to compensate for store closures. E-commerce grew by 158% to reach 18% of sales.

Shares jumped as much as 4% in London.

"The home-working revolution has been a rocket boost to demand as people were forced to find new ways of using space and re-refreshing rooms became almost like a national past time, with a new generation of DIY enthusiasts getting stuck in," said Susannah Streeter, a senior investment and markets analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown.

Kingfisher shares leapt at the open in London. Chart: Yahoo Finance
Kingfisher shares leapt at the open in London. Chart: Yahoo Finance

European markets fall amid vaccine row

European stocks opened lower on Monday amid fears of a third wave of COVID-19 across the bloc, and an escalating row between the UK and European Union (EU) over access to AstraZeneca’s (AZN.L) vaccine.

In London, the FTSE 100 (^FTSE) fell 0.79% after opening, while the French CAC (^FCHI) tumbled 0.87% and the German DAX (^GDAXI) was 0.51% lower.

Last week, Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, said she would halt the export of coronavirus vaccines into Britain unless Boris Johnson surrendered British-made AstraZeneca jabs to the EU.

READ MORE: Vaccine row heats up as EU doubles down on threat to ban AstraZeneca exports to UK

Von der Leyen said the continent has the power to ban exports if the pharma firm did not meet its supply obligations to the EU. "That is the message to AstraZeneca. You fulfil your contract with Europe before you start delivering to other countries," she told German newspapers over the weekend.

The UK prime minister is expected to speak to his EU counterparts this week. It came as Britain reached a new milestone, on Saturday, announcing that half of the UK adult population have now received a first dose of a COVID vaccine.

WATCH: What UK government COVID-19 support is available?