MARKETS

Nowhere to hide for travel stocks hit by oil and war

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The S&P 500 fell 0.8 per cent to 4328.9 points, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 0.5 per cent to 33,614.8 points.

Occidental Petroleum added 17.6 per cent and potash producer Mosaic 7.5 per cent.

United Airlines sunk 9.1 per cent, while Boeing fell 4.2 per cent.

European stocks fared even worse: the Euro Stoxx 50 benchmark dropped 5 per cent; Air France KLM declined 6.7 per cent in Paris, low-cost Hungarian carrier Wizz Air dropped 7.6 per cent, British Airways’ parent IAG lost 5.6 per cent in London, and Ryanair fell 4.3 per cent in Dublin.

Vladimir Putin said on Saturday that aviation sanctions would backfire, having been issued “under the political pressure of their authorities”, and that the closure of the Siberian route would increase the fuel consumption of foreign airlines, according to a report by Russian news agency CASS.

Finnair, which fell 6.4 per cent in Helsinki on Friday, last week conceded that re-routing flights around Russian airspace would add hours to the flying time which, when combined with the toll of jet fuel, “weighs heavily on the flight’s possibility to break even”.

Aviation software and ticketing providers Amadeus and Saber fell 8.6 per cent and 7.5 per cent respectively in Madrid and New York.

On Saturday, AirAsia Malaysia said it had reintroduced fuel surcharges for the first time in seven years to “offset the escalating jet fuel prices, which have exceeded $US120 per barrel”.

Last week, European jet fuel refining margins hit the highest level since October 2019, exceeding $US21 a barrel, according to Refinitiv data.

Consumer discretionary stocks were notably weaker, as Burberry fell 8.4 per cent in London. Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield sunk 7.6 per cent, while on Friday, its ASX-traded securities fell 4.9 per cent to $4.65.

This week, the US February consumer price index due on Thursday is the last major data point standing between the market and the Federal Reserve’s March 15-16 meeting.

Consensus is for a 0.8 per cent monthly jump, up from 0.6 per cent in January, for an annual increase of 7.9 per cent, up from 7.5 per cent.

Even the core CPI, which excludes food and energy, is expected to rise to 6.4 per cent, from 6 per cent.

The US economy added 678,000 jobs last month, dragging the unemployment rate down to 3.8 per cent, from 4 per cent. But average hourly earnings only rose US1¢.

“Although the headline print was strong, wage growth [and thus inflationary pressures] eased back a bit,” said Capital Economics’ Nicholas Farr.

“The big picture, though, is that events in Ukraine continue to dominate markets.

“The most likely outcome – as Fed chairman [Jerome] Powell highlighted in his testimony to Congress [last] week – is that the Fed presses ahead with monetary tightening.

“The situation in Europe, and especially the eurozone, is quite different, though.”

The US 10-year Treasury yield finished at 1.72 per cent, rallying in the final session of the week.

The Moscow Exchange will stay closed until Wednesday.

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