Airlines help Britain's FTSE hold steady at 4-month high

Airlines help Britain's FTSE hold steady at 4-month high

LONDON - Britain's top share index held steady around four-month highs on Tuesday, supported by strong gains for airlines, although its momentum was stalled by renewed weakness in energy stocks.

Top gainer was budget airline easyJet, up 4.6 percent following a trading update in which it said first-half seasonal losses would shrink this year.

Europe's second-largest low-cost airline said losses fell after it added seats on successful routes and attracted more business passengers.

International Consolidated Airlines Group (IAG) rose 2.2 percent after the board of Irish airline Aer Lingus

has recommended an improved 1.36 billion euro ($1.5 billion) takeover offer from the owner of British Airways.

The airlines group is up around 80 percent since the middle of August, while easyJet has rallied around 50 percent. "Airlines have had a great rally and great momentum behind them," Zeg Choudhry, managing director of LONTRAD, said. "The numbers for easyJet are good, as a small increase in revenues per seat are a massive boost to their underlying figures, and the market sees IAG's deal with Aer Lingus as very positive. But these stocks look quite high now."

The FTSE 100 was flat in percentage terms at 6,851.25 by 0842 GMT, after touching a new 4 month high at 6,864.97.

Taking the most points off the index were energy stocks, which gave away some of the gains made in a late rally on Monday.

Oil gave up early gains with Brent futures slipping below $48 on Tuesday as a stronger dollar weighed, offsetting comments from producer group OPEC that prices may have found a floor.

The energy sector trimmed 2.6 points off the FTSE 100 index.

Among the top individual fallers, Dixons Carphone fell 4.1 percent after being cut to "underweight" from "equal weight" by Morgan Stanley.

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