European markets drift lower as travel stocks suffer

Markets report: Ryanair down 3.18% amid tighter UK travel restrictions

European markets drifted lower on Friday as the UK upped travel restrictions on European Union countries while US shares paused at near-record highs as investors weighed data showing economic recovery slowing.


Ryanair shed 3.18 per cent to close at €11.73 as investors ditched European airlines following news that the UK government had taken France, the Netherlands and Malta off its green list of safe travel destinations.

The move means passengers returning from those countries must quarantine for 14 days. France is Britain's second most popular holiday destination after Spain.

The Irish airline group, which counts the UK as one of its biggest markets, hit a low of €11.485 during trade on Friday but regained some altitude before the close of business.


Concerns about the pace of economic recovery hit building-related stocks, dealers in Dublin said.

Building materials giant and index heavyweight, CRH, shed 1.19 per cent to close at €33.28 as mixed data from the US, from where it draws half its revenues, weighed on investors. Insulation specialist Kingspan was down 1.75 per cent at €64.45.

Paddy Power owner, Irish-based betting group, Flutter Entertainment, fell 2.23 per cent to €133.45 on generally poor sentiment towards its industry.

Real-estate investment trusts Hibernia Reit and Ires Reit both fell after enjoying a strong run that saw their values climb by about 10 per cent this week.

Hibernia was down 2.47 per cent at €1.184 while Ires shed 2.6 per cent to close at €1.50.

Packaging group, Smurfit Kappa, provided one of the few bright spots, climbing 1.33 per cent to €30.38.


Shares in Irish sandwich and convenience food maker Greencore tumbled following news on Thursday that almost 300 workers tested positive for Covid-19 in its factory in Northampton.

The group’s stock fell 6.44 per cent to 120.5 pence sterling in London, where the Irish company’s shares are listed, on Friday.

Aer Lingus and British Airways owner International Consolidated Airlines' Group shed 4.82 per cent to close at 194.55p on the back of the UK government taking several EU countries off its green list for safe travel.

Budget carrier EasyJet, a key rival of Ryanair's, lost 6.55 per cent to 570.8p as investors sold travel stocks. Package holiday group TUI slid 8.44 per cent to 315.6p as British holidaymakers cancelled plans to head for the continent.

Irish builder's merchant Grafton, owner of the Woodie's DIY chain, closed 1.46 per cent down at 676.5p on generally poor sentiment towards construction-related stocks.

Cardboard box maker and Smurfit Kappa rival Mondi dipped 0.65 per cent to 1,529p. GVC, owner of bookies chain Ladbrokes, was down 3.78 per cent at 769.8.

Elsewhere, troubled fashion chain Quiz surged 16.75 per cent to 7.25p after after it secured an increase and extension to its existing loan facilities from lender HSBC.

The company, which has been hammered by the lockdown, doubled its banking facilities to £3.5 million sterling.


Air France KLM was down 6.14 per cent as investors' caution about airlines spread across Europe on Friday. Germany's Lufthansa was down 1.78 per cent at €8.63 when business closed.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 index fell 1.2 per cent, with travel and leisure stocks down 2.3 per cent to lead sectoral losses.

Despite Friday’s pullback, the Stoxx 600 recorded its second straight week of gains as huge quantities of stimulus coursing through the financial system and optimism over the development of a Covid-19 vaccine made investors buyers of equities.


Trading on Wall Street was subdued on Friday as doubts crept in about a new US stimulus bill, while the S&P 500 hovered below record highs as a swathe of domestic data showed the economy was still smarting from coronavirus.

Shares of German biotechnology firm CureVac BV nearly tripled in their Nasdaq debut, marking the first stock market debut of a company developing a potential Covid-19 vaccine.

Applied Materials gained 4.4 per cent after it forecast fourth-quarter revenue above analysts' estimates following a rebound in demand for chip equipment and services. Additional reporting: Reuters

Barry O'Halloran

Barry O'Halloran

Barry O’Halloran covers energy, construction, insolvency, and gaming and betting, among other areas