It’s the question that could dictate the next year for Britain: does AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine work? The Lancet medical journal is today expected to publish the phase 1 clinical trial data for the British pharma giant’s research collaboration with the University of Oxford.
The duo have been working on the vaccine candidate – which had been dubbed ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 and now carries the more snappy moniker AZD1222.
Reports last week indicated that early stage human trials had been positive, lifting the FTSE 100. Today any confirmation of that could provide a further boost to the blue chip index. Traders are looking for any sign that the vaccine is effective enough to provide widespread immunity across the country, lifting public confidence and the chances of a decent economic recovery simultaneously. Astra's London-listed shares rose nearly 5% to 9599 today in anticipation of good news
The results will come on top of news that Britain has signed deals to secure 90 million doses of two possible coronavirus vaccines from the Pfizer and BioNTech (22UAy.F) alliance and French group Valneva.
The Government said the UK had secured 30 million doses of the experimental BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine, and a deal in principle for 60 million doses of the Valneva vaccine, with a option of 40 million more doses if it was proven to be safe, effective and suitable.
European traders will be putting their focus on any signs of white smoke from the EU summit. The crunch meeting over a rescue fund kicked off on Friday, with the details of a €750 billion package set to be thrashed out. The Netherlands, Austria, Sweden and Denmark are the hold out nations, arguing against to €500 billion being allocated as grants without conditions.
The quartet have been dubbed the “frugal four” and and it has been reported that the figure has been knocked down to €400 billion to try to appease them.
CMC Markets analyst David Madden said: “It was put forward that a ‘super emergency break’ be included in the package, meaning that any one government could question the use of the funds that are being deployed.
“Such a move would help ensure that the cash was been used for its appropriate purpose. The sooner the bloc can agree on the terms of the rescue the better for everyone, especially countries like Spain and Italy, which were hard hit by the health crisis, and are rely heavily on tourism.”
The FTSE 100 was 37 points lower at 6,253.27 after a mixed trading day in Asian markets.
Corporate updates are likely to be thin on the ground. SThree is to post interim results and analysts will be watching for signs of which industries are most likely to bounceback from the Covid-19 lockdown. Rival recruiter Hays last week reported that UK fees had slumped in lockdown, but there were still good prospects for jobs in tech and life sciences, while traditional City jobs like legal and accounting roles had dried up.
Shares in Marks & Spencer could also be in focus after Sky News reported last night that the retailer is preparing a restructure, with thousands of jobs affected, which could be unveiled by chief executive Steve Rowe this week. The pandemic has been painful for the High Street, with fellow stalwarts John Lewis and Boots among those cutting thousands of jobs.