FTSE 100 down, Ryanair makes record aircraft order, British Airways leads London blue chips

FTSE 100 remains down 20 points
Pound weaker against dollar
US markets open lower
Activision lawyers up

Activision Blizzard (NASDAQ:ATVI) has brought on Blackstone (NYSE:BX) Chambers heavyweight silk Lord David Pannick KC to bring the fight to the UK Competition watchdog after it blocked Microsoft’s high-profile US$69bn takeover of the Call of Duty and World of Warcraft publisher.

Lord Pannick previously represent Her Majesty The Queen Elizabeth II in winning an injunction in the High Court to restrain The Daily Mirror from publishing further allegations about her home life.

Other clients have included Shemima Begum, Manchester City FC and The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. He also advised former prime minister Boris Johnson on the partygate scandal.

The CMA’s decision to stop Microsoft’s takeover was met with bemusement from both sides of the table, with Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) and Activision pledging to fight the ruling.

Wall Street off to a poor start, British Airways owner leads London blue chips

The S&P 500 had a sluggish start to the day, falling 0.35% at the time of writing. While the tech-led Nasdaq index is currently around half a percent weaker against the Monday close.

However, AJ Bell’s investment director Russ Mould struck a bullish tone on the Nasdaq in comments provided over email this afternoon.

“It was the worst-performing major equity index in 2022 and, so far, it has been the best in 2023, so investors may well be tempted to think that the Nasdaq, and technology stocks more generally, are back in business, especially after the meaty rally in stocks such as Meta Platforms and Microsoft following their first-quarter results,” said Mould.

He added: “In addition, the US (and probably global) bellwether for technology stocks is up by 20% from its 2022 low and, arguably, entering a new bull market. However, it might not be quite as simple as that.

The Dow Jones industrial average is down around 0.14%.

Bank to the footsie, London’s blue-chip index is currently sitting at 7,750, marking a 0.37% daily dip.

British Airways owner, International Consolidated Airlines Group (LON:ICAG) is the leader of the pack with 2.5% on gains after analysts at Liberum said it could be worth as much as 350p per share.

That is more than double the 152p price it was fetching this morning.

Ryanair’s US$40bn order

Irish low-cost airline Ryanair (LON:0RYA) has confirmed an order for 300 new aircraft at a cost of US$40bn (£32bn), marking the largest acquisition to date for the Euronext Dublin-listed carrier.

Of the 300 Boeing (NYSE:BA) 737 MAX 10s on order, 150 orders have been firmly secured.

Negotiations for the acquisition had been in progress prior to the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, but were halted in September 2021 due to the inability of Ryanair and Boeing to reach a mutually agreeable pricing agreement.

“We expect these new, larger, more efficient, greener, aircraft to drive further unit cost savings, which will be passed on to passengers in lower airfares,” said chief executive Michael O’Leary.

He added: “The extra seats, lower fuel burn and more competitive aircraft pricing supported by our strong balance sheet, will widen the cost gap between Ryanair and competitor EU airlines for many years to come.”

The 228-seat Boeing 737 MAX 10 aircraft have 228 seats- 21% more than the currently used modified Boeing 737 Max 8’s.

More seats mean more potential revenue, but the new aircraft will also have a downside.

As O’Leary stated back in March: “If you want us to buy an aircraft with 30 extra seats that we have to fill six times a day, that’s a lot of yield dilution. Therefore we need a much more competitive seat price if you want the extra 30 seats.”

Delivery of the aircraft is expected between 2027 and 2033.

RyanAir shares added around 1.4% in light of the news.

Back in London, the FTSE 100 recovered to 7,754 from an intraday low of 7,736, though remains 0.35% lower since last session’s close

Strikes planned for Elizabeth Line one-year anniversary

Transport union the TSSA has confirmed strikes on the Elizabeth Line will take place on the one-year anniversary, potentially leading to the closure of a section of the line.

members will walk out for the second time this year in their fight for equal pay with other workers on the £20bn project.

The TSSA claims that line managers employed by Rail for London Infrastructure (RfLI), a Transport for London subsidiary overseeing the line, receive significantly lower salaries compared to their counterparts in similar positions on other TfL services like the Tube and DLR.

TSSA organising director Mel Taylor said: “We’ve been in talks with management for almost a year now, yet the majority of our members have been offered an uplift of just over one per cent to make up for the huge pay differentials.

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