European stocks have opened mostly higher with the FTSE 100 underperforming, hugging the flatline, dragged down by NatWest Group (LSE:NWG) which is facing selling pressure ahead of its earnings on Friday.
Meanwhile, Frasers Group (LSE:FRAS) shares are rallying after the company said it would start an £80 million share buyback programme, returning cash to shareholders.
US futures are pointing to mixed open after the S&P 500 closed above 5,000 for the first time on Friday and the Nasdaq Composite also rallied 1.25%. This marked the fifth straight week of gains for the major averages stateside, pointing to a significant bull run for US equities.
Bitcoin has been on a tear, surpassing $48,000 after rallying nearly 9% over the past five trading days. Although price action was punishing in the period straight after the SEC approved a number of bitcoin exchange-traded funds (ETFs), since the lows in late January the cryptocurrency has been bouncing back, on track for its longest winning streak in eleven months.
According to Bloomberg, so far the nine spot bitcoin funds have driven more than $9 billion of investor inflows. The SEC regulatory approval, the upcoming halving event, and the S&P 500 hitting record highs are all boosting risk appetite and demand for cryptos.
Heathrow said around six million people travelled through its airport in January, up 9.4%, including 196,661 passengers on Blue Monday. Heathrow said 2024 ‘got off to a smashing start.’ The airport is also campaigning for a return to tax-free shopping in the Spring Budget.
Heathrow has been enjoying strong passenger travel demand with January’s figures just shy of pre-Covid levels, pointing to a significant recovery from the pandemic era doldrums. It also enjoyed a strong month in terms of cargo passing through the airport.
While cost-of-living pressures continue to hurt consumers amid the backdrop of elevated prices and higher interest rates, it looks like individuals and families continue to prioritize travel over other luxuries where possible, even in the face of higher air fares. February will be the next major test for Heathrow as a gauge of demand over the typically busy half-term period following the seasonal post-Christmas lull.
Meanwhile, Heathrow may enjoy a boost to airport spending if the Treasury U-turns on the axing of tax-free shopping for tourists. This has resulted in billions of pounds of lost sales and tax revenues for the UK economy and the public purse respectively, so a reversal would no doubt be a welcome reprieve for the travel, luxury, and hospitality industries.
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