Astrazeneca vaccine hopes give investors a shot in the arm on first trading day of 2021
Stock markets started the new year with a bang as high hopes for Astrazeneca’s vaccine fuelled a rally on the first trading day of 2021.
The FTSE 100 rose as much as 3 per cent, in what was also the first session since Brexit, as Brian Pinker, an 82-year-old dialysis patient, became the first person to receive the Covid jab developed by Oxford University and Astrazeneca early yesterday morning.
Traders are anticipating a robust recovery for the economy and for leading companies over the next few months, despite gloom about fast-spreading new mutations and the prospect of further lockdowns.
Vaccine rally: The FTSE 100 rose as much as 3 per cent in what was the first session since Brexit
Spreadex analyst Connor Campbell said the Astra vaccine is ‘another step on the journey back to normality, and investors have seized upon it with all their might’.
Russ Mould, investment director at AJ Bell, added: ‘For now investors clearly believe the vaccine will provide the catalyst for a big recovery, perhaps after a tough first quarter.’
But he added that ‘getting enough of the population inoculated will be a big logistical challenge’. Astrazeneca shares, which have been lacklustre, gained ground, rising 1.3 per cent, or 98p, to 7422p.
The bullish start to the year was helped by the last-minute Brexit deal secured on Christmas Eve covering trade in goods.
Joshua Mahony, senior markets analyst at IG Group, said: ‘While there is typically plenty of speculation over what Brexit could look like, the deal’s focus on goods over services means that it may take some time to truly gauge how much of an impact this break-up will have upon the economic growth prospects.’
The Footsie’s bounce comes after it suffered the worst year since the financial crisis.
In 2020, the blue-chip index lost more than 14 per cent of its value. Many of the biggest risers yesterday were miners as commodity prices also shot higher on hopes of a recovery.
The Footsie smashed through the 6600 mark in early trading – but some gains were pared back and the blue-chip index closed up 1.7 per cent, or 111.36 points, at 6571.88 as Boris Johnson prepared to bring in tough new Covid restrictions.
The FTSE 250 made strong gains in early trades but closed up 0.2 per cent, or 49.59 points, to 20537.89, as investors in the more UK-focused index braced for the hike in Covid rules.
Analysts were also buoyed by upbeat manufacturing figures from the PMI tracker produced by data group IHS Markit, which showed factory activity grew in December at the fastest pace than at any point over the last three years.
However, they added that delays at ports and other logistical disruptions meant supply-chain delays also lengthened – to an extent rarely since the survey began.
US markets were sharply lower mid-session – with the Dow Jones down 1.8 per cent and the Nasdaq slumping 1.5 per cent.