Drooping markets given shot in the arm by vaccine hopes

Fans of roller coasters would not have been disappointed by their midweek ride as a big fall was followed by an equally dramatic rise on London’s main index on Wednesday.

The FTSE 100 recovered from a 1.4% drop to finish the day down just 11.78 point, or 0.2%, to 6,157.96.

It came as news of a potential new breakthrough in the fight against coronavirus filtered through to global markets, reversing a Europe-wide sell-off.

A clinical study run by pharmaceuticals giant Pfizer and German company BioNTech showed positive results for a potential vaccine to help fight the disease.

It helped spur markets on both sides of the Atlantic.

“Though it didn’t quite cause the explosion of growth previous reports have done, it did erase European losses that were running as high as 2% at the midday mark,” said Connor Campbell, an analyst at Spreadex.

The earlier downturn had been sparked by fears over the new cases caused by an opening of the economy.

On Wednesday, New York City announced that it was suspending plans to start allowing diners back inside as the number of reported cases surged in other parts of the country.

“The tick up in tensions in Hong Kong also contributed to the negative move,” said CMC Markets analyst David Madden.

“Beijing have introduced a controversial law that will give it more control over the former British Overseas Territory, and that could impact China’s international relations.”

Frankfurt’s Dax index closed the day down by 0.4%, Paris’s Cac dropped 0.2%, while on the other side of the pond, the S&P 500 was on track for a 0.5% gain and the Dow Jones a 0.1% rise shortly after markets closed in Europe.

The price of a pound rose by 0.6% to 1.2479 against the dollar and by 0.4% to 1.1088 when compared to the euro.

Crude oil also rose, with Brent up by 1.6% to 41.95 US dollars per barrel.

In company news, the revelation that bosses at discount retailer B&M have been eyeing a “steady recovery” in customer numbers was celebrated by shareholders, who sent the firm’s stock up by 4.9%.

British Land’s shares took a 0.4% tumble as the company revealed that it had only managed to collect a little over a third of the rent from shops that was due for the three months to the end of June.

Meanwhile its rival Hammerson jumped by 6.5%, despite a much bleaker situation. It has only been paid 16% of the third quarter rent that was due.

Shareholders were not very impressed with bumper trading figures from Sainsbury’s as the supermarket said that sales jumped 8.5% in the 16 weeks to June 27 as people stocked up on essentials. Shares dropped 2.5% as it also unveiled a £500 million profit hit from the pandemic.

The news that 5,000 jobs are likely to go at SSP, which owns Upper Crust and Caffe Ritazza, sent its shares down by 2.3%. The company also plans to keep four fifths of its UK sites closed past the autumn.

Spire Healthcare took a small 0.12% fall after it was fined £1.2 million by the competition watchdog for colluding to fix prices with smaller healthcare providers.

The biggest risers on the FTSE 100 were Smith & Nephew, up 75p to 1,580.5p, Burberry, up 47p to 1,646.5p, Melrose, up 2.95p to 116.95p, AB Food, up 49.5p to 1,964.5p, and Compass Group, up 27p to 1,139p.

The biggest fallers on the FTSE 100 were Hargreaves Lansdown, down 89.5p to 1,539p, ITV, down 3.06p to 71.62p, Polymetal, down 55p to 1,560.5p, Evraz, down 9.6p to 278.8p, and DS Smith, down 9.5p to 318.7p.

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