The FTSE started the new week on a positive note, shrugging off for the moment coronavirus-related declines in Chinese stock markets, focusing instead on domestic company news.
Shanghai and Shenzhen stock markets reopened after being closed for more than a week giving local investors the first opportunity to react to the spread of the virus. Saved by the daily 10% price move limit the Shanghai index closed down 7.7% and Shenzhen dropped 8.4%.
In London, airlines tracked Ryanair shares higher after the budget airline reported a net profit for the third quarter and decided to extend its share buyback programme.
The recently merged food delivery group Just Eat-Takeaway is due to start trading in London today. With a mouthful of a name the newly minted company may have bitten off more than it can chew as it has yet to clear all the regulatory hurdles from the competition authority, which is unlikely to happen before early March.
Brent crude: we are not there yet
Brent crude prices have lost nearly 0.7% since the open but the decline is not accurately reflecting where the oil market is likely heading. China has extended the closure of large parts of its industrial production for at least one more week and transport in and out of 15 cities has been cut off.
Apple also closed its stores and offices until February 9. In an oil market that is already on the brink of being oversupplied and where China is the single largest consumer, this kind of slowdown cannot be underestimated, particularly given that the shutdowns may end up needing to be extended beyond next Monday.