By Barbara Kollmeyer
London stocks rose on Monday after suffering the worst one-day drop since the early days of the pandemic, due to the revelation of the omicron variant of COVID that some worry could end up more contagious than delta.
The FTSE 100 index /zigman2/quotes/210598409/delayed UK:UKX +0.53% was poised to finish the day with a gain of around 1%, leaving the main index at 7,119.56. Friday saw the FTSE drop 3.6%, the biggest one-day point decline since March 27, 2020. The pound /zigman2/quotes/210561263/realtime/sampled GBPUSD +0.3457% fell 0.2% to $1.3299.
The bulk of London’s Friday losses came from a selloff in resource stocks as investors worried that the omicron variant could weigh on the global recovery if contagion levels rise and more restrictions are needed. All arriving U.K. visitors will need to isolate until they can show a negative PCR test against COVID, and a mask mandate for shops and public transport have been reinstated.
The U.K., as well as other countries have barred visitors from South Africa, which announced the emergence of the variant on Friday, as well as other African nations.
Copper /zigman2/quotes/210054311/delayed HG00 +2.26% and platinum /zigman2/quotes/210261555/delayed PL00 +3.75% prices, along with crude oil /zigman2/quotes/209723049/delayed CL00 +1.01% were rising, after sharp losses on Friday. Those gains pushed heavily weighted shares of Royal Dutch Shell /zigman2/quotes/205095589/composite RDS.A +0.18% /zigman2/quotes/206428183/delayed UK:RDSA +0.57% and BP /zigman2/quotes/202286639/delayed UK:BP +0.91% /zigman2/quotes/207305210/composite BP +0.15% stock rose 3% each. Shares of miners Rio Tinto /zigman2/quotes/202627887/composite RIO +3.80% /zigman2/quotes/208934945/delayed UK:RIO +3.40% and Glencore /zigman2/quotes/201400686/delayed UK:GLEN +1.59% rose nearly 2% each.
The day’s biggest gainer was BT /zigman2/quotes/209006687/delayed UK:BT.A +2.44% , up 6% on speculation that India’s Reliance Group was considering a bid — though that was subsequently denied, said Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets, in a note to clients. He added that there have also been reports that private equity had been looking to acquire BT’s digital network business Openreach.