Markets mixed as Biden administration recommends COVID booster shots

Washington, DC - August 16: 
President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the situation in Afghanistan in the East Room of the White House, in Washington, DC. 
(Photo by Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
The Biden administration moved to recommend COVID booster shots. Photo: Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post via Getty

US stocks had made small moves by the closing bell in London, as president Joe Biden announced the country would opt to give its citizens COVID-19 booster jabs next month.

Health officials said that the booster shot recommendation is pending the Food and Drug Administration’s evaluation of the safety of receiving third doses of the Pfizer (PFE) and Moderna (MRNA) coronavirus vaccines.

The recommendations were made following fears about decreased efficacy of vaccines over time.

A selloff on Tuesday signalled the end of a five-day winning streak.

The S&P 500 (^GSPC) was 0.1% lower by the closing bell in London, the Dow (^DJI) was 0.1% lower and the Nasdaq (^IXIC) ticked up 0.1%.

"Bargain hunters have provided some support by stepping in after the massive sell-off that took place yesterday," said Naeem Aslam, chief market analyst at AvaTrade. "Equity markets dropped the most in the last 30 days yesterday."

Meanwhile, European markets were mixed on Wednesday afternoon in London, making muted moves following a larger-than-expected drop in consumer price index figures in the UK.

Watch: Why can't governments just print more money?

The FTSE 100 (^FTSE) was down 0.3% by the end of the session following a close in the red on Tuesday. Over in Europe, the DAX (^GDAXI) was up 0.2% and the CAC (^FCHI) declined 0.7%.

Inflation in the UK slowed down to 2% in July, from 2.5% in June, according to the latest Office for National Statistics (ONS) data.

“Inflation stepped off the accelerator in July, but this doesn’t mean we’re set for a gentle ride, because it owes an enormous amount to an artificial bump in prices a year earlier," said Sarah Coles, personal finance analyst, Hargreaves Lansdown.

"The underlying pressure on prices, particularly from soaring petrol and second-hand car prices, mean it’s set to pick up speed again soon, and may well hit 4% by the end of the year."

Read more: UK inflation slows down to 2% in temporary blip

Overnight in Asia, indices felt some respite from a selloff earlier in the week, triggered by Chinese data that missed expectations.

The Hang Seng (^HSI) closed 0.4% higher, the SSE Composite (000001.SS) was up 1.1% and the Nikkei (^N225) rose 0.6%.

"The sell-off in Chinese stocks and weak US retail sales numbers aren’t helping the situation as well. It is likely that the gains that we are seeing for the US and European today may not last long," said Aslam.

The moves higher came as New Zealand's central bank left its rates unchanged.

Watch: What is inflation and why is it important?