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MARKET REPORT: Airlines fly ahead after Lufthansa back in profit

by Press room

Airline stocks flew higher after German carrier Lufthansa returned to profit.

The industry endured a torrid time during the pandemic after Covid restrictions brought international travel to a standstill.

But with lockdown measures a thing of the past and the feel-good factor slowly returning, airlines have enjoyed customers taking to the skies once again.

Shares in Wizz Air rose 4.9 per cent, or 134p, to 2865p, Easyjet added 4.2 per cent, or 20.3p, to 505p and British Airways owner IAG was up 2.1 per cent, or 3.18p, to 154.42p.

The gains came after Lufthansa, Europe’s second-largest airline, said it was ‘back’ as it returned to profit and revealed revenues nearly doubled in 2022.

Flying the flag: The gains came after Lufthansa, Europe’s second-largest airline, said it was ‘back’ as it returned to profit and revealed revenues nearly doubled in 2022

It said it carried 102m passengers last year compared to 47million a year earlier.

Elsewhere in the sector, aircraft leasing firm Avation swung back into profit.

The Singapore-based company, which owns planes such as the Airbus A320 that are used by the likes of Easyjet, made a profit of £5.6million in the six months to December 31, having racked up a £13.2million loss a year earlier.

Last month Avation said it aimed to lease or sell its remaining unused aircraft by the end of June. It now has only three off-lease aircraft left in its fleet.

Its share price rose by 4.8 per cent, or 6p, to 132p.

The FTSE 100 was up a touch – by 0.04 per cent, or 3.07 points, to 7947.11 – while the FTSE 250 rose 0.4 per cent, or 74.12 points, to 19,925.77.

Mining stocks made significant gains on the back of higher copper and gold prices.

Antofagasta added 2.7 per cent, or 43p, to 1664p, Rio Tinto rose 2.1 per cent, or 126p, to 6144p, Glencore gained 2.4 per cent, or 12p, to 523p and Anglo American was up 1.8 per cent, or 53.5p, to 3042.5p.

Car insurer Admiral was on the slide after Citigroup lowered the stock’s rating to ‘neutral’ from ‘buy’ and cut the target price to 2272p from 2423p. Shares fell 1.9 per cent, or 40p, to 2111p.

Meanwhile IMI posted an annual profit for the third year in a row.

The engineer said profits rose 17 per cent to £285million in 2022. Revenue was up 10 per cent to £2.05billion.

Its dividend payment of 17.4p for 2022 will be 10 per cent higher than the previous year. But the shares fell 0.1 per cent, or 1p, to 1582p.

National Express added 2.6 per cent, or 3.6p, to 141p after HSBC raised the bus and coach operator’s target price to 235p from 230p.

The broker also upgraded Aston Martin, raising the luxury car maker’s target price to 194p from 160p. Its share price rose 9.8 per cent, or 21.5p, to 240p.

But Hunting headed in the other direction. The energy services firm fell 7.7 per cent, or 23.5p, to 282p after Berenberg downgraded the stock to ‘hold’ from ‘buy’.

Active Energy Group has been granted a trademark to register its biomass technology Coalswitch in Canada.

In response, the renewable energy company’s shares soared 23.5 per cent, or 1.22p, to 6.42p.

Michael Hewson of CMC Markets said: ‘The general mood has also been helped by better-than-expected economic reports, which while raising concerns about further rate hikes, have also helped to create a mood that the economic picture may not be as dire as had been predicted at the start of the year.’

Pennon gained 7.1 per cent, or 57.5p, to 862.5p after Deutsche Bank raised the South West Water owner’s rating to ‘hold’ from ‘sell’.

It sparked a rally across the sector as United Utilities, the water provider for the North West of England, rose 2.3 per cent, or 23.1p, to 1016.5p while Severn Trent was up 2.3 per cent, or 61p, to 2745p and SSE added 0.2 per cent, or 3.5p, to 1731p.

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