Another round of robust annual results on Wall Street has helped ease declines on London’s FTSE 100 Index amid fears over political unrest in Egypt.
Better-than-expected earnings from oil giant Exxon added to news of a jump in US consumer spending to offset investor worries over the impact of Egypt’s woes on oil supplies.
There was also relief that the Suez Canal – a key route for oil tankers – remained open despite ongoing political tension, helping the Footsie pare back losses to stand 5.7 points down at 5875.7.
Other markets across Europe also narrowed losses, with the Cac 40 in France down just two points and Germany’s Dax off 0.2%.
But the Dow Jones industrial average saw a cautious start to trading, up 10 points.
In London, travel-based stocks such as TUI Travel, Thomas Cook and British Airways owner International Consolidated Airlines Group were among those under pressure.
Sterling fought back against the greenback, with the pound up 0.9% to just under 1.60 dollars.
Heavyweight banks such as Barclays and Royal Bank of Scotland were shaken by the uncertainty. Barclays was down 3.8p at 294.4p, a drop of more than 1%, while RBS fell 0.8p to 41.9p.
With Thomson holidays owner TUI Travel cancelling flights to the Egyptian city of Luxor, shares in the blue chip company dropped 6.1p to 253.7p.
Newly merged BA and Iberia firm IAG dropped 3.2p to 257.8p, while InterContinental Hotels slipped 14p to 1315p. FTSE 250 tour operator Thomas Cook shed 5.7p to 190.9p.