London markets slip despite AstraZeneca vaccine boost

The London markets closed lower as an update from AstraZeneca on its potential vaccine with the University of Oxford failed to spark life into cautious traders.

The Prime Minister’s update on new restrictions in England from December 3 weighed on sentiment alongside the impact of a strong pound.

Despite tighter tiered restrictions, pub companies saw their shares push higher as many venues prepare to reopen in some capacity next month.

AstraZeneca shares were however lower, falling 317p to 8,000p, as some analysts raised concerns that the vaccine may not get the green light in the US.

The FTSE 100 closed 17.61 points lower at 6,333.84 at the end of trading on Monday.

Connor Campbell, financial analyst at Spreadex, said: “The AstraZeneca and Oxford vaccine update failed to recreate the kinds of gains produced by the Pfizer and Moderna preparations.

“If that news had been released before the Pfizer and Moderna statements, investors likely would’ve jumped for joy – in comparison to the 90% and 95% efficacy reported by those other trials, however, the Oxford vaccine can’t help but seem a tad disappointing.

“That in turn contributed to the FTSE’s flat performance, the index losing the morning’s gains in the face of the Astra fall, continued Brexit deal strength from sterling and anxiety about the lockdown measures Boris Johnson is set to announce this evening.”

Elsewhere in Europe, the major markets performed better than in London but were still marginally lower.

The German Dax decreased by 0.08%, while the French Cac moved 0.07% lower.

Meanwhile, sterling improved after the Chancellor Rishi Sunak downplayed the potential for a No Deal Brexit.

The pound rose by 0.16% versus the US dollar at 1.330 but was up 0.38% against the euro at 1.124.

Elsewhere in company news, Cineworld shares soared after the troubled chain secured more than £550 million in extra liquidity to bolster its finances.

The company, which has temporarily shut its US and UK theatres, said it had secured a £336 million debt lifeline, as well as another £233 million through extending credit facilities and a tax refund which has been brought forward.

Shares in Cineworld rose by 9.21p to 55.3p at the close of play.

Breakdown group the AA slipped in value after it confirmed it had received a £218 million offer for the business.

Private equity firms TowerBrook Capital and Warburg Pincus have been holding discussions with bosses for nearly a month and said they would offer shareholders 35p a share. It closed 1.6p lower at 31.95p.

Estate agency Countrywide jumped by 13.2p to 230p after rival Connells reconfirmed a £82.1 million offer as part of its takeover bid.

The price of oil dipped lower after cautious sentiment knocked a bullish start to trading on Monday.

The price of a barrel of Brent crude oil decreased by 0.24% to 45.86 US dollars.

The biggest risers on the FTSE 100 were Rolls-Royce, up 7.56p to 107p, IAG, up 8.65p to 166.5p, Shell B, up 56p to 1,252.8p, Shell A, up 54.2p to 1,299p, and Lloyds Banking Group, up 1.385p to 37.2p.

The biggest fallers on the FTSE 100 were Polymetal, down 87.5p to 1,595p, Halma, down 105p to 2,276p, Fresnillo, down 49p to 1,085p, AstraZeneca, down 317p to 8,000p, and Homeserve, down 40p to 1,128p.