Cineworld put on a good show as the share price surged following a strong opening for the latest Spider-Man film.
The stock jumped 8.2 per cent, or 2.55p, to 33.68p after it emerged that superhero epic Spider-Man: No Way Home raked in nearly £40m at the US and Canadian box offices when it opened for preview showings on Thursday.
That was the third-highest total ever for such screenings.
The figure raised hopes that Cineworld will see strong demand from cinemagoers this weekend including in the UK – although fears over the spread of Covid could dampen attendance.
A good sign: The stock jumped 8.2 per cent after it emerged that superhero epic Spider-Man: No Way Home raked in nearly £40m at the US and Canadian box offices
A strong weekend of ticket sales would give the company a much-needed boost after a tricky two years. In a further blow, the loss of a court case this week saw it slapped with a bill of £722m and sent its stock price tumbling.
Even after yesterday’s surge the share price is still trading 29 per cent below where it was at the start of the week before the outcome of the court battle was reported to the market. Elsewhere, shares in the High Street and online retailers saw a mixed performance as the market digested the latest batch of UK sales data.
UK retail sales rose 1.4 per cent in November, according to data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), helped by the Black Friday sales period and many Britons choosing to get their Christmas shopping in early amid fears of both supply chain issues.
Gains were led by clothing stores, which saw sales rise 2.9 per cent, surpassing their pre-pandemic level for the first time as shoppers splashed out on Christmas outfits. High Street giant Next was little moved by the figures. Rising just 0.2 per cent, or 14p, to 7,772p, while Primark-owner AB Foods climbed 3.7 per cent, or 69p, to 1952.5p and online fashion giant Asos added 4.7 per cent, or 99p, to 2209p.
Luxury fashion firm Burberry also got a boost, rising 1.7 per cent, or 29.5p, to 1745p amid hopes the festive season would rekindle demand for its posh handbags and scarves.
However, the stock rises were unable to make up for all the lost ground following a bruising week for most of the High Street as growing fears of Omicron kept customers at home.
AJ Bell analyst Danni Hewson said despite November’s surge in demand, December was ‘shaping up to be a very different story’ for the retail sector.
‘Footfall is down dramatically and there will be some consumers deciding what they don’t have now they won’t be buying,’ Hewson added.
The FTSE 100 added 0.1 per cent, or 9.31 points, to 7269.92 while the FTSE 250 climbed 0.6 per cent, or 132.42 points, to 22780.38. Hopes that the Bank of England’s rate rise will help curb inflation, as well as hopes Omicron can be defeated, helped bring some festive cheer to the markets at the end of a difficult week.
Travel and leisure stocks saw a boost amid the lull in pandemic anxiety, with British Airways-owner IAG up 3.9 per cent, or 5.02p, at 132.04p while Premier Inn-owner Whitbread gained 2.1 per cent, or 56p, at 2769p.
However, the blue-chip index was weighed down by oilers as crude prices dropped amid fears the resurgence in Covid-19 infections will hit demand. Shell was down 1.9 per cent, or 31.4p, at 1595.8p while BP dipped 1.5 per cent, or 5.2p, to 333.75p.
A tech sell-off on Wall Street on Thursday night hit shares in Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust, which fell after Tesla stock, which makes up around 5 per cent of its portfolio, dropped 5 per cent.
The shares slumped nearly 3 per cent to 1320p during the session before recovering lost ground to close 0.1 per cent, or 1.5p, at 1358.5p.
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