By Barbara Kollmeyer
U.K. stocks struggled just above the flat line on Thursday, supported by gains for International Hotel Group and Mitchells & Butlers after a positive analyst note, while shares of Vivo Energy soared on news of a $2.3 billion takeover.
The FTSE 100 index /zigman2/quotes/210598409/delayed UK:UKX +0.25% inched up 0.1% to 7,293, but for the week so far has gained nearly 1%, bucking a weaker trend across European indexes. The pound /zigman2/quotes/210561263/realtime/sampled GBPUSD -0.3227% was steady at $1.3325.
Weighing on the downside were resource stocks, with energy giant Royal Dutch Shell fell 0.8%, while miners Rio Tinto /zigman2/quotes/202627887/composite RIO -0.31% /zigman2/quotes/208934945/delayed UK:RIO +0.43% and Glencore /zigman2/quotes/201400686/delayed UK:GLEN +0.18% fell 1% each.
Oil prices /zigman2/quotes/209723049/delayed CL00 -1.83% finished slightly lower on Wednesday as U.S. inventories rose and traders waited for a response from OPEC and its allies to a U.S. reserve release earlier this week.
U.S. markets will be closed Thursday for the Thanksgiving Day holiday, and will reopen on Friday for a shortened session.
International Hotels Group /zigman2/quotes/204459500/composite IHG -1.33% /zigman2/quotes/202865596/delayed UK:IHG -0.60% led the FTSE 100 gainers, up 2.7% after a double upgrade to buy from analysts at Jefferies, where a team led by James Wheatcroft predicting pent-up demand will lead to more investor attention on leisure. “Encouraging data puts the focus on hotels for 2022,” he said, adding that they also remain positive on the gaming sector.
As well, the analysts expect “low-ticket, highly accessible leisure activities such as pubs, restaurants , cinemas and caterers to bounceback rapidly as the backdrop normalizes, boosted by market share gains. Whitbread /zigman2/quotes/207954631/delayed UK:WTB -0.03% , Cineworld /zigman2/quotes/206525056/delayed UK:CINE +7.89% and JD Wetherspoon /zigman2/quotes/209658419/delayed UK:JDW -1.15% , Mitchells & Butlers /zigman2/quotes/209008939/delayed UK:MAB +3.35% are all rated buy at Jefferies.
Mitchells & Butlers shares rose 4% and Whitbread rose 2%. Cineworld shares slipped 1% and JD Wetherspoon was unchanged. The group also lifted Melia Hotels International /zigman2/quotes/204223740/delayed ES:MEL -0.82% in Spain to buy, and those shares rose 4.6%.
On the FTSE 250 /zigman2/quotes/210598417/delayed UK:MCX -0.49% , shares of Vivo Energy surged nearly 20% after the Africa-focused retailer and distributor of fuels and lubricants agreed to a $2.3 billion takeover by VIP II Blue B.V., a wholly-owned, indirect subsidiary of Vitol Investment Partnership II Ltd, independent energy marketing and trading company.