Stocks make small gains after Pfizer applies for vaccine approval in US

European stock markets made small gains on Friday as Pfizer said that it was applying for emergency approval for its new vaccine.

The FTSE 100 closed up by 0.3%, or 17.1 points, to end the day on 6,351.45, while Frankfurt’s Dax and Paris’s Cac both rose 0.4%.

It means that London’s top index has only gained around 35 points since last Friday despite news that there are three Covid-19 vaccines making good progress.

But the end of the week hides a strong showing earlier. After Moderna revealed that its vaccine was 95% efficient in preventing Covid-19, the index briefly rose above 6,450 points on Tuesday.

“It has been a lacklustre session when compared with the volatility witnessed in the first half of the week,” CMC Markets analyst David Madden said on Friday.

Earlier in the Pfizer said that it had asked the US Food and Drug Administration for fast-tracked approval of its new vaccine, which results should could also be 95% effective.

“In light of the vaccine stories, it feels like stocks could be in limbo for a while until we find out about the vaccine situation – in either direction.

“Seeing as a lot of progress has been made with respect to coronavirus drugs, it seems like a floor has been put in place under equity benchmarks now but that could all change should the drug story get derailed.”

Europe’s traders seemed to have escaped the problems that were hurting their US cousins. The Dow Jones and the S&P 500 were both down, by 0.5% and 0.3% respectively, just after markets closed in London.

Meanwhile, sterling gained 0.2% and 0.3% against the dollar and euro respectively. One pound now buys 1.3285 dollars or 1.1206 euros.

For the FTSE 100, Sage Group was the big spoilsport of the day, helping to pull the index down as its shares lost 13.4% of their value.

The software giant took a £17 million provision for bad debt because of the pandemic and reported a nearly 4% drop in operating profit on Friday.

Shares in Centrica dropped by 1.1% after union members at its subsidiary British Gas prepared to vote on whether they should go out on strike over Christmas.

Unions accuse the energy supplier of threatening to fire and rehire 20,000 workers to force them to accept changes to pay and conditions.

The biggest risers on the FTSE 100 were Antofagasta, up 38p to 1,135p, Avast, up 14.6p to 474p, JD Sports, up 22.2p to 823.8p, BAE Systems, up 13.2p to 521p, and Smiths Group, up 38.5p to 1,569p.

The biggest fallers on the FTSE 100 were Sage Group, down 91p to 588.8p, BT, down 5.7p to 122.3p, Johnson Matthey, down 93p to 2,315p, Kingfisher, down 8.3p to 283p, and Informa, down 12.8p to 569.8p.