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London open: markets welcome Iran deal, travel stocks jump

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UK markets headed higher on Monday morning as investors welcomed the deal over the weekend for Iran to limit its nuclear programme.

The so-called P5+1 nations of Russia, China, France, Germany, the UK and the US have agreed with Iran for the latter not to pursue further development of its nuclear programme in exchange for the easing of economic sanctions over the next six months.

Iran is home to the world’s fourth-largest oil reserves but its exports have been affected by tough sanctions. The nation will not be allowed to increase its oil sales for six months but the deal has relieved tensions in the oil producing region of the Middle East.

Travel stocks in particular were performing well in the UK early on as crude prices declined following the agreement. Brent was trading 1.95% lower at $108.89 a barrel.

Another record close for US benchmarks on Friday was also feeding into the stronger start in London, as the Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 both marked seven straight weeks of gains. US stock futures were pointing to a firmer start after the opening bell later on.

However, Chief Market Analyst Michael Hewson from CMC Markets warned: “Volumes this week could […] suffer as a result of the Thanksgiving holiday in the US on Thursday as we head into the end of the month.”

Petrofac, the oil and gas services provider, rose strongly after saying that its 50/50 joint venture (JV) with Korean based Daelim Industrial has been awarded a $2.1bn engineering, procurement and construction contract by Oman Oil Refineries and Petroleum Industries.

BP was lower after the US judge overseeing the entire civil liability trial arising from the Gulf of Mexico oil spill criticised the company’s “deeply disappointing” attempt to block what it sees as excessive compensation payments.

Oil peers Shell, Tullow and BG Group were also out of favour this morning as crude prices weakened significantly. However, with Brent down sharply this morning, travel stocks such as Carnival, Thomas Cook, IAG and easyJet were making gains. The latter was given an extra boost by Jefferies which upgraded the shares to ‘buy’.

Gold miners Randgold Resources and African Barrick Gold were in the red with the price of the precious metal trading near a four-month low as the demand of safe-haven assets reduced on the back of the Iran deal.

Engineering services giant Babcock fell after revealing that it is in discussions about setting up a “joint venture” with helicopter firm Avincis. The Financial Times cited sources as saying that the Babcock is looking to pay around £400m for a 50% interest in the company, while the Sunday Times suggested that it could launch a £1.5bn bid – comprising £1bn in cash plus £500m of net debt – to buy the whole company.

Defence group Chemring surged after saying that expectations for the financial year ended October 31st remain in line with previous guidance despite the adverse market backdrop.

Source: ShareCast

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