Travel shares drag Europe lower on virus worries

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(Reuters) – European shares fell and travel stocks hit February lows on Monday on worries that the fast-spreading Delta variant could hamper travel demand and slow the ongoing global economic recovery.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index fell 1.2%, hitting its lowest in almost two weeks.

The German DAX dropped 1.1% and France’s CAC 40 declined 1.3%. UK’s FTSE 100 was down 1.2% as rising virus cases overshadowed optimism about England’s reopening.

“The rise in the Delta variant case count may be spreading outside Asia and risk now seem to be tilting to the loosening of restrictions in many regions being delayed, hence growth momentum is faltering,” said Peel Hunt analyst Ian Williams wrote in a morning note.

Europe’s travel and leisure index dropped 2.9% to its lowest level since mid-February. Britain’s government said on Friday it was scrapping a planned relaxation of COVID-19 quarantine rules for travellers from France.

UK-listed shares of cruise operator Carnival (NYSE:CUK) Plc, airlines easyJet (LON:EZJ) and British Airways-owner IAG (LON:ICAG) fell between 4% and 6.7%.

In Britain, cases rose to 48,161 on Sunday and in France, a minister said the re-imposition of curfew measures cannot be excluded if infections continue to climb.

Oil majors like BP (NYSE:BP) and Royal Dutch Shell (LON:RDSa) fell more than 1.5%, hit by falling crude prices after OPEC+ ministers agreed to increase supply from August.

With government bond yields on the decline, other economically sensitive sectors such as mining, automobiles & parts and banks dropped as rising virus cases raised the prospect of slower recovery. [GVD/EUR]

French media giant Vivendi (OTC:VIVHY) slipped 0.8% after billionaire investor Bill Ackman decided to buy up to 10% of Vivendi’s Universal Music Group through his main hedge fund, rather than a special purpose acquisition company.

Italian telecoms group Telecom Italia (MI:TLIT) dropped 2.2% after it forecast its organic core profit to fall this year compared to a prior forecast for a stable- to low-single digit growth.

British video game company Sumo Group soared 42.2% after Chinese tech giant Tencent Holdings (OTC:TCEHY) agreed to buy the company in a deal that valued at 919 million pounds ($1.27 billion).

Graphic: UK stocks lag European peers so far in 2021 – https://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/mkt/dgkplrrbmpb/Pasted%20image%201626675506966.png

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