BRITAIN’S top share index fell back yesterday, with travel and leisure companies hit by concerns that the spread of Ebola outside Africa could hurt air travel and the tourism business.
Sentiment was also hit by a set of poor data, including an unexpected four per cent month-on-month drop in German industrial production in August. Analysts had been expecting a fall of 1.5 per cent.
The International Monetary Fund’s statement, cutting its global growth forecast for 2014 from 3.4 per cent to 3.3 per cent also cast a pall.
The blue-chip FTSE 100 index ended one per cent lower at 6,495.58 points. It was led down by a three per cent drop in the UK travel and leisure index on news that four people had been hospitalised in Spain after the first Ebola transmission outside Africa.
British Airways and Iberia owner International Airlines Group fell 6.92 per cent to 345.60p, easyJet lost 5.32 per cent to 1,389p, cruise company Carnival closed 6.69 per cent lower at 2,328p and Tui Travel dropped 3.85 per cent to 382p. Hotels group Intercontinental Hotels also took a hit, down 3.65 per cent to 2,244p, while Ryanair dropped 5.05 per cent to €7.12
The spotlight was also on mining shares after Glencore, down 2.45 per cent at 331.05p, had approached Rio Tinto, up 0.78 per cent at 3,020.50p, about a merger. Rio rejected the bid and Glencore announced it was not actively considering a move, which meant the sector lost some of its earlier gains.
Tesco jumped 3.31 per cent to 182.60p on reports that a fifth executive was to leave after the discovery of its £250m accounting black hole, and that private equity firm TPG was considering a £2bn bid for the supermarket’s data analysis and Clubcard business Dunnhumby.
Among the mid-caps, Cairn Energy climbed two per cent to 183.50p after it said a joint venture had discovered oil at a well off Senegal.
But Spirent Communications nose-dived 21.84 per cent to 77.10p after the telecoms testing group said it expected only a small rise in third- quarter revenues as business in the US and China remained subdued.
Asos dropped seven per cent to 2,061p after investors took profits following Monday’s suggestion by analysts at UBS that Amazon.com could pay up to £50 a share for the online fashion retailer.