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Kevin Farrell

(see also AIR Crash on main wire)

TRAVEL STOCKS SLUMP AMID GLOBAL SECURITY FEARS

By Holly Williams and Roger Baird, Press Association City Staff

Travel stocks slumped amid heightened global security fears and as fresh data revealed the ongoing impact of recent terrorist attacks.

Budget airline easyJet and British Airways parent International Airlines Group (IAG) were both down 3% lower after they suspended flights to and from Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt until next year following the terrorist bombing of a Russian airliner.

Investor worries over global tensions put indices across Europe under pressure, with the wider FTSE 100 Index down 28.3 points to 6277.2 after a Russian warplane was shot down by Turkey.

The Cac 40 in France and Germany's Dax both fell by 1.4%. In New York the Dow Jones Industrial Average was marginally lower in early trading.

The pound was down a cent against the US dollar at just under 1.51, after Bank of England governor Mark Carney told the Treasury Select Committee he did not know when interest rates will start to rise, which is vaguer than he has been in recent weeks. Sterling was also a cent lower against the euro at just over 1.41.

EasyJet and IAG were among the biggest top flight fallers, down 52p to 1594p and 18.5p to 549.5p respectively, with the Egypt flight announcement compounding recent falls after the Paris massacre saw travel stocks plunge.

Fears were also heightened after the US issued a worldwide travel alert for its citizens in response to "increased terrorist threats".

Figures from travel information group ForwardKeys reportedly showed flight bookings to Paris were more than a quarter down year-on-year in the week to November 21, with cancellations also 21% higher.

Holiday Inn parent InterContinental Hotels was also in the red, down almost 2%, or 41p to 2441p.

Kingfisher was another stock on the back foot, down 3p at 342.1p, after it saw third-quarter group results weighed down by tough conditions in France.

Like-for-like sales growth was robust for B&Q and Screwfix, but the French troubles and a £17 million currency hit left retail profits 6.6% lower at £223 million.

Engine maker Rolls-Royce was 19p higher at 588p as it confirmed plans to slash costs by up to £200 million a year in a bid to revive its fortunes.

Elsewhere, All Bar One and Harvester owner Mitchells & Butlers slipped 3.7p to 344.3p despite moves to restore its dividend payout after seven years.

M&B signalled it may have to raise prices to offset the living wage impact as new boss Phil Urban outlined his strategy to help shore up results in the face of mounting competition and soaring costs.

The pub chain saw pre-tax profits edge higher to £126 million in the 12 months to September 26 from £123 million the previous year, but had warned over profits in September after disappointing late summer trading.

The biggest risers on the FTSE 100 Index were Glencore up 3.6p at 94p, Rolls-Royce up 19p at 588p, Intertek up 84p at 2665p and Babcock International up 30p at 1035p.

The biggest fallers on the FTSE 100 Index were Burberry down 63p at 1195p, International Airlines Group down 18.5p at 549.5p at Whitbread down 141p at 4306p and easyJet down 52p at 1594p.

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