Brussels explosions prompt FTSE 100 stock market slide led by travels shares

Holiday companies and airlines led the fallers on the FTSE 100 index of the biggest companies in the UK

European stocks have fallen and so-called safe haven assets like gold and government bonds have risen in price after explosions were heard in Brussels on Tuesday.

Holiday companies and airlines led the fallers on the FTSE 100 index of the biggest companies in the UK.

IAG, which owns British Airways, fell more than 4 per cent, EasyJet fell more than 3.5 per cent and TUI, parent company of Thomson holidays, fell 3 per cent. Shares in Intercontinental Hotel lost 2.5 per cent.

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Shares in Thomas Cook were down almost 5 per cent after the company released a trading update stating that summer bookings are down 5 per cent.

The fall in travel sector stocks dragged the FTSE 100 down at opening.

Two blasts were heard at Brussels airport on Tuesday morning, closely followed by a third at a city Metro station near EU buildings. Both the Metro system and the airport were closed as rescuers sought to evacuate anyone inside.

"Anything like the events we're seeing in Brussels this morning is going to weigh on risk sentiment and risk appetite," Michael Hewson, chief market strategist at CMC Markets in London, told Reuters.

"Coming up to the Easter holiday, people are going to be very reluctant to put more money into these (stock) markets. If anything, they will be more likely to take money out," he said.

Thomas Cook said in an earlier trading statement that it had taken fewer bookings to Turkey, but that it benefitted from moving flights away from Turkey, Tunisia and Egypt swiftly and that there was strong demand for resort holidays in the Western Mediterranean.

Video shows people fleeing Brussels airport explosion

"Thomas Cook continues to operate in a volatile market environment. We know that customers want a summer holiday but we can see that some are leaving it later to book this year as they consider their options,” Peter Fankhauser, chief executive, said.