Market Report: Al-Qaeda is calling for jihadists to attack easyJet and British Airways


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The Independent Online

Times are turbulent for airlines – as the stock market reopened for the first time since Christmas Eve yesterday, traders were left with a wealth of bad news from the sector.

The biggest concern for London-listed companies was news that al-Qaeda is calling for “lone wolf” jihadists to attack easyJet and British Airways planes. It comes just days after an AirAsia Indonesia flight went missing, adding to the sector’s woes.

British Airways’ owner, International Consolidated Airlines, fell 3.4p to 471.7p, but the biggest faller was easyJet, off 36p at 1,642p. The budget carrier also has a strike among its French cabin crew. Workers have pledged to down tools on New Year’s Eve, following action over Christmas.

Markets across Europe were shaken by news that Greece is heading for a snap election in January, stoking fears it could leave the eurozone. The impact in London was muted – traders took to stocks such as gold miners with gusto – but the FTSE 100 was unmoved, up 23.58 points at 6,633.51.

Royal Mail was the day’s best performer, buoyed 19.4p to 442.5p by the collapse of rival City Link.

One of Glencore’s earliest outside investors continued to sell down its stake. First Reserve, the energy-focused private equity group, sold £2.4m worth of stock. First Reserve, which bought into Glencore though a convertible bond issue in 2009, offloaded close to £20m worth of shares last week. Glencore rose 1.6p to 302p.

Rumours that the US pharmaceutical company Stryker could be preparing a bid for the fake hip and wound-dressing specialist Smith & Nephew helped markets to avoid the doldrums on Christmas Eve and Smith & Nephew continued to rise yesterday, improving 20p to 1,193p.

The Aim-listed minnow Starcom, which makes security products, hurtled up 15.5p to 21.5p after announcing a partnership with a German Porsche dealership to offer a vehicle tracking system as an optional extra.

President Energy slumped 7.75p to 17p after admitting to technical problems with a drill in Paraguay. A separate test drill was also disappointing, uncovering gas but no oil.