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European stocks rise after regulator calms concerns over vaccine

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PA City Staff
·3-min read
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European markets climbed higher after the European Medicines Agency sought to calm concerns over the Oxford/AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine.

London traders welcomed the agency’s statement that it “remains convinced” that the “benefits of this vaccine outweigh the risk” after a number of EU countries suspended its use on Monday.

The FTSE 100 closed 53.91 points, or 0.8%, higher at 6,803.61 on Tuesday.

Connor Campbell, financial analyst at Spreadex, said: “Positive comments surrounding the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine appeared to give Europe a boost, despite a slow start from the US.

“Following Monday’s suspension of the preparation in France, Germany and Italy, the European Medicines Agency has stated there is ‘no indication’ the small number of blood clotting cases seen by people who have received the vaccine were caused by the dose itself.

“Benefiting from AstraZeneca’s own increase, as well as cable’s decline, the FTSE rose to around 6,800.”

German stocks were particularly strengthened by the announcement, with the Dax sitting just short of a new record high.

The German Dax increased by 0.69% and the French Cac moved 0.32% higher.

Across the Atlantic, the major markets opened with minor gains as traders assessed updates regarding the vaccine.

US markets also appeared to be cautiously waiting for further clarity on the direction its economy could take ahead of the Federal Reserve’s meeting on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, sterling lost ground on a dollar which benefited from some positive US retail data on Tuesday afternoon.

The pound decreased by 0.04% versus the US dollar to 1.388 and was up 0.22% against the euro at 1.167.

In company news, Natwest Group dipped in value after the City watchdog launched criminal proceedings against the taxpayer-backed firm for alleged failures under money laundering rules.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) alleges that “increasingly large cash deposits” were made into a NatWest customer’s account, with around £365 million paid in – of which some £264 million was in cash.

Shares slid by 2.75p to 185.7p on Tuesday.

High street baker Greggs saw shares lift after it struck an upbeat tone with investors over plans to continue its expansion despite slumping to its first loss in 36 years.

The Newcastle-based company announced a pre-tax loss of £13.7 million in 2020, compared with a £108.3 million profit a year earlier, but still hopes to open 100 sites this year. It closed 68p higher at 2,278p.

Troubled lender Amigo tumbled by 1.8p to 11.9p per share after it told investors that the Financial Conduct Authority would extend its investigation into how Amigo assesses the creditworthiness of customers and its governance of the process.

The price of oil moved back into the red as traders were keen to trim their exposure to the energy market amid concerns the pausing of the vaccine distribution could impact on travel.

The price of Brent crude oil decreased by 0.8% to 68.33 dollars per barrel.

The biggest risers on the FTSE 100 were British Land, up 23.4p to 532p, Rolls-Royce, up 4.85p to 122.85p, Land Securities, up 27.3p to 705.8p, AstraZeneca, up 254p to 7,232p, and Ocado, up 75p to 2,189p.

The biggest fallers on the FTSE 100 were Just Eat, down 158p to 7,182p, Shell ‘B’, down 27.4p to 1,459p, Shell ‘A’, down 27p to 1,523.4p, CRH, down 56p to 3,379p, and BP, down 4.9p to 311.25p.