FTSE extends rally on Next sales boost and travel gains

The FTSE 100 continued to claw back heavy losses made earlier in the week as it rallied 1.3%, with retail giant Next (NXT) leading the way as it raised profit guidance.

The main market made widespread gains this morning with just a handful of stocks falling into the red. It jumped 1.52%, or 105 points, to 6,986 as it tried to reverse the effects of a global stock market rout that overshadowed ‘Freedom Day’ in the UK as concerns about the spread of the delta variant of coronavirus persisted.

Next led the rally, soaring 8.7%, or 648p, to £80.42 as the high street stalwart reported that pent-up demand had sent sales rocketing, with trading over the past 11 weeks ‘materially ahead’ of expectations. The retailer upgraded its profit guidance by £30m to £750m.

Hargreaves Lansdown analyst Sophie Lund-Yates said Next had done particularly well during the pandemic thanks to its online offering and has ‘proven to be one of the stronger names in retail’.

‘A bricks and mortar retailer that expects surplus cash at the end of the year, and is comfortable enough to pay special dividends is nothing short of a miracle,’ she said.

Covid-19 bellwether stocks, such as those in the travel and leisure sectors, enjoyed the rally, with aerospace engineer Rolls-Royce (RR) up 6% at 95p, while British Airways owner International Consolidated Airlines (IAG) added 6% to trade at 170p. The world’s largest caterer Compass (CPG) moved 5.2% higher to £14.86.

The FTSE 250 followed its large-cap peer higher, gaining 1.5%, or 342p, to 22,461. The mid-cap index was also buoyed by travel and leisure stocks, with Cineworld (CINE) jumping to the top of the exchange after climbing 10.3%, or 6p, to trade at 64p.

Travel stocks did particularly well despite concerns that the spread of the delta variant will mean restrictions…

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