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Banks drag FTSE 100 down; airline shares lower on travel restrictions

British shares muted ahead of economic data; airlines skid

By Shivani Kumaresan and Devik Jain

(Reuters) – Banks and industrial stocks weighed on London’s FTSE 100 on Friday, while airline stocks came under pressure as Britain tightened travel restrictions again.

The blue-chip FTSE 100 index edged 0.1% lower, with HSBC, Prudential, Barclays and Lloyds banking group down between 0.7% and 1.2% after weaker than expected U.S. jobs data pushed bond yields lower.

Miners, including Anglo American, BHP Group and Rio Tinto offered the biggest support.

British airways owner IAG lost 0.9% after Britain removed Portugal from its quarantine-free travel list and added seven more countries to its red list.

Other airlines including Ryanair Holdings, Wizz Air and EasyJet fell between 1% and 2.6%.

The domestically focused mid-cap FTSE 250 index was also little changed, nudging up 0.1%.

“The travel sector continued to see aftershocks from yesterday’s earthquake decision to remove Portugal from the green list,” said Danni Hewson, financial analyst at AJ Bell.

“Hopes of anything approaching a normal summer for the industry now look pretty much over.”

Meanwhile, the prevalence of COVID-19 infections in England almost doubled in the last week of May and the estimated reproduction “R” number crept up as the “delta” variant became more widespread, raising worries about the country’s unlocking plans.

Globally, shares rallied as a weaker-than-expected U.S. jobs report eased concerns that a fast recovery in the world’s biggest economy could prompt the Federal Reserve to shut off the stimulus taps sooner. [MKTS/GLOB]

After breaking above the 7,000 mark in mid-April, the FTSE 100 index has oscillated in a narrow range on worries that rapid economic growth could lead to higher inflation and faster tightening of ultra-loose monetary policies.

Among other stocks, Reckitt Benckiser Group rose 1.3% and B&M European Value Retail added 1.9% after brokerages hiked their price targets.

(Reporting by Shivani Kumresan and Devik Jain in Bengaluru; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu, Kirsten Donovan)

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