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Europe’s markets swing back lower as Omicron concerns continue

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European traders saw the tide turn once again as markets across the continent finished the session in the red.

The u-turn following Wednesday’s rebound was driven by concerns over the pandemic’s spread in mainland Europe, and particularly Germany.

The FTSE 100 was more resilient than its counterparts despite some weakness across hospitality stocks, while Wall Street bounced back after a sell-off in its previous session.

London’s top flight closed 39.47 points, or 0.55%, lower, at 7,129.21p on Thursday.

Elsewhere, the German Dax decreased by 1.35% and the French Cac decreased by 1.25%.

Danni Hewson, financial analyst at AJ Bell, said: “US investors have shaken off yesterday’s wobble and it’s notable that Boeing is one of the stocks helping reignite the S&P 500 along with several other big travel names, perhaps some investors taking the opportunity to buy the dip.

“Whilst Wall Street’s on the seesaw up, Europe’s on the downside with the FTSE 250 looking positively gloomy.

“Mixed messaging from ministers won’t help consumers in England fathom what to do with their winter plans and the hospitality sector is already feeling the effects of a lack of confidence with many bookings now run through with red ink and shares in The Restaurant Group, Mitchells and Butlers and Wetherspoon all struggled.”

Meanwhile, the pound moved 0.02% higher versus the US dollar at 1.331, and increased 0.13% against the euro at 1.177.

In company news, Halfords saw its shares motor after it raised more than £63 million to fund its acquisition of Axle Group, owner of the National tyre servicing brand.

The retailer completed an equity raise for £63.4 million on Thursday morning, a day after agreeing a deal worth £62 million to buy the Stockport-based motoring services group.

Shares in Halfords finished the day 20.6p higher at 341p.

BT shares were once again at the top end of the FTSE as speculation continued over the potential for a takeover bid from global telecoms tycoons.

The UK firm saw shares rise 2.7p to 169p at the close of play as it moved closer to December 10, the date from which shareholder and telecoms billionaire Patrick Drahi can first make a takeover approach.

DigitalBox, which owns media titles including The Tab and The Daily Mash, saw shares leap after it told shareholders that revenues and earnings for 2021 will be “significantly ahead” of guidance.

Shares gained by 2.25p to take the company to 9.25p.

The price of oil started the day higher on expectations that Opec+ would halt or reduce a planned hike in output by 400,000 barrels but slumped after it said the increase would still go ahead as planned.

Brent crude decreased 1.18% at 69.74 dollars per barrel when the London markets closed.

The biggest risers on the FTSE 100 were Shell A, up 26.2p to 1633.2p, BT, up 2.7p to 169p, Shell B, up 21.4p to 1,629.2p, BHP, up 24.5p to 2,099p, and BP, up 3.7p to 336.6p.

The biggest fallers on the FTSE 100 were Darktrace, down 43p to 433.8p, United Utilities, down 25p to 483p, JD Sports, down 11p to 215.25p, Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust, down 67p to 1,436.5p, and Glencore, down 15p to 354.65p.

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