Western Morning News

FTSE higher as rollout of new vaccine gets underway


LONDON’S top market ended its first trading day of the year a good step higher than it signed off in 2020, as AstraZenec­a’s new vaccine started rolling out in the UK.

The FTSE 100 closed at 6,571.88 points, a 111.36-point rise, or 1.7%.

The index had been riding high after the first patients in the UK started receiving a second vaccine, this one developed by AstraZenec­a and Oxford University.

But the rise was a retreat from the index’s big highs earlier in the day, which had seen it rise as high as 6,662. The market started to retreat shortly after Downing Street announced that the Prime Minister was to make a televised address later in the evening to outline the next steps to tackle Covid-19.

It was the first day that post-Brexit trading arrangemen­ts came into force, meaning US banks wanting to buy European stocks would no longer go through London.

Belinda Keheyan, the head of marketing at trading platform Aquis Exchange, toldPA: “It’s been a pretty momentous day that overnight all European trading has just gone from London, it’s virtually 100%.”

Markets opened sharply down in the US shortly before the retreat started across Europe. Traders across the pond are fixating on today’s senate run-off elections. The two races in Georgia could mean that the Democrats have control over both Houses of Congress and the White House. Victory in both would mean that Republican­s and Democrats are split 50-50 in the Senate, with the tie-breaking vote going to vice president Kamala Harris.

“Bucking Europe’s vaccine-led optimism, the Dow Jones dropped half a percent, retreating from what would have been a fresh all-time peak,” said Spreadex analyst Connor Campbell.

“It is understand­ably nervy – tomorrow sees the run-off Senate races in Georgia, a pair of votes just as important as the nationwide election.”

The Dow Jones was trading down about 1.7% around closing time in London, while the S&P 500 had dropped 1.5%.

Sterling was down against the dollar and the euro at 1.3576 and 1.107 respective­ly.

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