The FTSE-100 surged ahead this afternoon amid hopes of a breakthrough in Oxford University and AstraZeneca's
Markets across the world cheered reports that positive results would be published tomorrow, sending the FTSE-100 to close up 112.9 at 6292.65 after trading above 6300 at one stage. The Dow Jones Industrial Average jumped before its gains petered out slightly later.
AstraZeneca powered ahead to close up 5% on speculation on ITV that its vaccine, currently in phase III trials in humans, is going better than expected, with an update on its Phase I trial due to appear in a medical journal.
The news sent the most badly covid-affected stocks surging, particularly those in travel and related industries. Aero engines maker Rolls-Royce jumped 5% and British Airways owner IAG leaped 11%. Intercontinental Hotels Group and EasyJet ended the day up 5 and 6% respectively, Premier Inns-owner Whitbread was up 7% and events and office caterers Compass up 8%. Carnival, the cruise ships operator, jumped 11% and Cineworld 9%.
The gains came despite falls on Asian markets this morning over heightened concerns about tit-for-tat measures from Beijing after Britain's decision to stop Huawei kit being used in UK telecoms infrastructure.
Downing Street's decision to ditch Huawei in the UK's telecoms infrastructure was deemed likely to hit BT longer term amid warnings it will cost billions of pounds for its Openreach business to make the fix. However, on the positive side, digital secretary Oliver Dowden delayed the move to give BT, and Vodafone, longer to make the switchover. Shares in the two groups jumped in late trading yesterday but BT fell 2% today and Vodafone ended flat.
UK inflation data came in slightly higher than expected, but still near four-year lows. Gaming was the most notable price riser as people bought in more video games during the covid crisis. The impact on markets was fairly muted, with economists still betting the Bank of England will do more QE later in the year.
In stock specific news, Asos leaped 3% on a 10% leap in group sales. The company has been somewhat accident prone having attempted too many changes to the business last year but appears to be coming right, having seen record sales for the year, up 10%.
The vaccine hopes weren't enough to stave off a 6% slump in Burberry after it cautioned that recovery to pre-covid levels will "take time".
Dixons Carphone plunged 9% after posting a £140 million loss and warned on its cashflow situation. Losses at its mobile arm are expected to worsen, too.