British Airways and easyJet climb on European holiday hopes – live updates

Shares in European airlines have rallied in early trading after the EU outlined plans over the weekend to open its borders to vaccinated travellers. 

The commission said national governments across Europe should ease “current restrictions on non-essential travel into the EU to take into account the progress of vaccination campaigns and developments in the epidemiological situation”.

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Hong Kong reviews mandatory vaccination for domestic workers

Hong Kong is reviewing a decision to make Covid-19 vaccinations mandatory for foreign domestic workers after the decision set off a wave of criticism in the Asian financial hub.

Although officials have been concerned about several local cases involving virus variants, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam said they were currently reexamining the policy after complaints.

“It is something we have not done before,” Lam told reporters on Tuesday. “So after listening to voices in the society, I have requested the Labour and Welfare Bureau to review the justification, feasibility, and discuss with experts including consulates of relevant countries where the foreign domestic helpers mainly come from.”

The Philippine consulate in Hong Kong thanked Lam and her government for their “understanding and magnanimity” in a statement about the review. It encouraged all Philippine nationals in the city to get vaccinated. [via Bloomberg]

Frasers to resume £60m share buyback

Mike Ashley’s Frasers Group has announced plans to spend £60m between now and and July despite warning less than a month ago that it would suffer a £200m hit from the Covid-19 pandemic.

The company, which includes House of Fraser and Sports Direct, will start the buying spree on Tuesday – buying a maximum 10 million shares.

Frasers said: “The purpose of the programme is to reduce the share capital of the company.”

Businesses typically purchase shares and hold them in reserve to reduce the number of shares available to the public, which tends to push up the share price.

The move comes less than a month after bosses said the retailer could take a hit in excess of £200m due to the Covid-19 restrictions – double its previous estimate in February.

Airlines rally on European holiday hopes 

Shares in European airlines have rallied in early trading after the EU outlined plans over the weekend to open its borders to vaccinated travellers. 

  • IAG (British Airways) + 3.5pc
  • EasyJet +4.2pc
  • Ryanair +1.3pc 
  • Lufthansa +1.6pc
  • Air France KLM +1.2pc

FTSE jumps back above 

After a late downward move on Friday, the FTSE 100 has jumped back above 7,000 following the bank holiday weekend.


Saudi Aramco profit soars

Saudi Aramco’s profit soared in the first quarter following a recovery in global oil and gas markets, allowing the state-owned company to maintain its dividend, Bloomberg reports.

The world’s biggest energy firm kept its quarterly payout, almost all of which goes to the Saudi Arabian government, at $18.8bn. The money is a vital source of cash for the kingdom as it tries to narrow a budget deficit that ballooned last year, with the coronavirus pandemic sinking oil prices and shutting down local businesses.

The bumper results follow those last week of Big Oil firms such as Royal Dutch Shell and BP, whose profits are back to pre-pandemic levels.

Aramco’s adjusted net income for the quarter was 78.6 billion riyals ($21 billion), up 24pc year-on-year and higher than analysts’ estimates of roughly $18bn. Free cash flow was $18.3bn, almost rising to the level of the dividend.

The company, based in Dhahran in eastern Saudi Arabia, is seeking to reduce a debt load that spiked last year as earnings collapsed and it opted to maintain the $75bn annual dividend.

Markets mixed

Good morning. The FTSE 100 is tipped to open slightly higher after trading in Asia was thinned out by public holidays in China and Japan.

5 things to start your day 

1) Ethereum hits record high as interest in crytocurrency soars: The digital currency Ethereum has broken past $3,000 (£2,100), to quadruple its value this year.

2) Hydrogen for heating homes is in the pipeline: Three purpose-built houses are being used to test out a vision of the future that could soon be rolled out to homes across the UK.

3) Castore speeds ahead with McLaren F1 racing deal: An upmarket sportswear brand backed by Sir Andy Murray has agreed a multimillion-pound deal with McLaren’s Formula One team.

4) Bookmakers to be spared toughest of new curbs on gambling: The most stringent elements of a crackdown on the betting industry are set to be shelved as ministers fold plans for affordability checks into a wider review of the gambling laws.

5) Facebook warning to advertisers after iPhone privacy crackdown: Facebook has warned advertisers that it may not be able to accurately measure how many people see their messages, after a privacy clampdown by Apple in iPhone software.

What happened overnight 

Asia’s share markets were mostly higher on Tuesday as regional equity investors looked to signs of recovery from the coronavirus pandemic as major economies around the world reopen.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was up by 0.05pc on the back of a positive lead from Wall Street overnight.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index opened 0.3pc higher at 28,441.95.

Japan and mainland China’s markets remained closed on Tuesday for holidays, dampening trading volumes across the region.

Coming up today

Economics: Manufacturing PMI, consumer credit, mortgage approvals (UK), factory orders, trade balance (US)