FTSE ends day steady as hotel stocks surge - London Report

Arally in InterContinental Hotels Group and Whitbread shares yesterday following their well-received results helped to keep the FTSE 100 steady.

The blue-chip FTSE 100 ended 0.1 per cent lower at 6,345.13 points, outperforming a 0.4 per cent fall in the pan-European FTSEurofirst 300. The FTSE 100 index still trades about 11 per cent below its all-time highs hit in April.

InterContinental Hotels Group, one of the world’s top hoteliers, surged 6.9 per cent after saying it was confident in its outlook for the year due to encouraging trading trends and after posting growth in its third quarter.

“The group has again reported solid progress. Holiday Inn delivered a record level of room openings, key markets such as the US, the UK and Germany remained strong, while signs of recovery in markets such as southern Europe and Russia played their part,” said Keith Bowman, equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown.

The second largest riser was Inmarsat, London’s very own rocket-launching satellite communications company, which rose 3.36 per cent after the it announced it had signed a 10-year deal with German carrier Lufthansa, Europe’s largest airline, to provide high-speed internet across its European airline fleet.

Whitbread also saw strength in its hotels business which, combined with growth in its Costa Coffee brand, helped its first-half profit to rise about 14 per cent. Whitbread shares rose 3.3 per cent.

Analysts at Numis said the update was reassuring, and that while it would leave its forecasts unchanged, it would move its rating to “add” from “hold” following market weakness that had seen the stock fall around 10 per cent since July.

“Today’s outlook statement suggests a similar level of growth in the second half which, we believe, may soothe some market fears that the slowdown might be continuing,” Numis analysts said in a note.

Basic resources stocks saw choppy moves, with the UK mining index falling earlier following a drop in metals prices. The sector index was last up 0.2 per cent as copper prices recovered to trade in positive territory.

Shares in Glencore rose three per cent after dropping earlier. Rio Tinto, BHP Billiton and Anglo American were down between 0.3 to 0.5 per cent, but off their intra-day lows.