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FTSE-100 leaps amid hopes of Gilead's "cure" for coronavirus

·3-min read
A lab technician loads bright stock filled vials of investigational coronavirus disease (COVID-19) treatment drug remdesivir: via Reuters
A lab technician loads bright stock filled vials of investigational coronavirus disease (COVID-19) treatment drug remdesivir: via Reuters

London shares jumped today after US shares shot up in the hope of a cure for covid from US pharmaceuticals giant Gilead.

The company's Remdesivir treatment was said by a study to show a 62% cut in fatalities in what looked like the most promising result from the drugs industry's fight to find a cure so far.

The FTSE-100 closed up 80.78 points at 6176.19. The Dow Jones leaped some 438 to 26,513 in the evening, driving all European markets higher.

Metals prices were on the rise again, pushing up shares in Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich's Evraz, Fresnillo, Rio Tinto and Anglo American, which all gained 2-4%. Gold, silver and platinum refiner Johnson Matthey also gained 2%. Precious metals gained due to the US dollar weakening.

The week ahead could be choppy for shares, though, as the biggest US corporations begin their season for reporting quarterly profits. This week sees JPMorgan, Goldman Sachs and Wells Fargo among others making their earnings reports. Analysts are predicting an overall fall of 44% - the worst since 2008.

Pepsico, however, kicked off the season with better-than-expected profits which should set US stocks off to a good start to the week. Pepsico shares were up more than 2% this afternoon with market traders predicting a 200 point rally on the Dow Jones Industrial Average today. As well as the Gilead covid hopes, traders were pointing to further good news on vaccines from Pfizer and BioNTech. The pair announced they had won "fast track" designation from regulators for two of their potential medicines. Pfizer was up 2% and BioNTech in Germany closed up more than 15%.

UK banks had a tricky day today amid speculation of poor trading from their US peers. Barclays, RBS and Lloyds were all down in the morning but staged late rallies in the evening to end solidly up thanks to the US market gain.

Travel and leisure stocks were helped by the Remdesivir news, with Intercontinental Hotels Group the biggest beneficiary, up 3%.

Positive updates from G4S pushed shares up 9%. The company said first half profits would beat City forecasts of £159 million.

Andrew Bailey, governor of the Bank of England, said he was "very concerned for jobs" in the UK. The Bank has been telling the City to expect a V-shaped recovery. For many economists, that is hopelessly optimistic although others say the Bank is probably right, given strong rebounds in data so far. But, at a Speakers for Schools event, the governor said the economy was rebounding. "We are very worried about jobs, as are a lot of people," he added.

Last Friday's figures on the oil industry gave some grounds for hope, with the Baker Hughes report showing the dramatic slide in the number of rigs active in the US was decelerating. Reports over the weekend suggested Saudi Arabia was confident enough in demand levels to consider upping production; bad news for oil prices but positive for overall economic sentiment. BP shares were up 2% and Shell 1%.

CMC says the pound is trending upwards against the dollar and has been since late June suggesting it might now target 1.2690 - the 200 day moving average. Beyond that, the new target for traders could be 1.2813.

Stock market watchers may be infuriated to see that Neil Woodford, the fund manager whose investments collapsed, leaving 300,000 investors trapped in his Equity Income Fund, has landed a potentially lucrative new job. He is acting as an adviser to Juno Capital alongside his co-founder Craig Newman.

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