Global markets continued to bask in the positivity arising from Pfizer’s vaccine update on Monday, as the FTSE 100 posted its eighth consecutive session of gains.
London’s leading index was head and shoulders above its European counterparts as it benefited from a strong day for banks.
The FTSE 100 closed 85.25 points higher at 6,382.1 at the end of trading on Wednesday.
David Madden, market analyst at CMC Markets UK, said: “The FTSE 100 hit a five-month high as the bullish sentiment on the back of a possible Covid-19 drug is still doing the rounds.
“In London, property, banking and utility stocks are some of the biggest gainers.
“In light of the hope generated on the back of the potential coronavirus vaccine, traders are snapping up banking stocks because they feel the sector won’t be hit that hard after all.”
Elsewhere in Europe, the other major markets made gains but were less buoyant than the FTSE as traders grew more cautious.
The German Dax increased by 0.4%, while the French Cac moved 0.48% higher.
Across the Atlantic, the Dow Jones fell on the opening bell amid concerns investors are starting to fret over Donald Trump’s lack of interest in conceding the election and the chaos that could be in store in the coming weeks.
Meanwhile, sterling was hit by a bullish move in the value of the US dollar which continued its gains following the Pfizer update.
The pound fell by 0.49% versus the US dollar at 1.320 but was down 0.06% against the euro at 1.122.
Retail stocks were broadly strong on Wednesday amid renewed hopes that the vaccine progress will speed up the sector’s recovery in sales.
In company news, Paddy Power-owner Flutter Entertainment saw shares jump after it predicted it will do better this year than previously expected.
“Flutter’s performance in the third quarter exceeded our expectations in both sports and gaming,” said chief executive Peter Jackson.
Shares closed 640p higher at 13,430p after it hailed the betting rebound.
BAE Systems also closed in the black after pushing its forecasts higher as a lower tax bill offset poor exchange rates.
It said the business has seen good operational performance and is now expecting orders to be above its pre-Covid predictions. It closed up 11.8p at 475.4p.
Elsewhere, office owner Workspace slipped on the back of pushing back its decision on paying a dividend to shareholders after swinging to a loss for the past six months.
It finished the day down 19p at 737p.
Car listing business Auto Trader nudged 5.4p higher to 574p after broker Liberum upgraded the business, predicting a bright outlook for the car retail market.
The price of oil pushed higher again as its recent rally showed no signs of slowing down.
The price of a barrel of Brent crude oil increased by 2.67% to 44.36 US dollars.
The FTSE 100’s biggest risers of the day were IAG, up 11.05p at 148.7p; Segro, up 58.8p at 930p; Ocado, up 138p at 2,302p; and Kingfisher, up 17.5p at 293.4p.
The biggest fallers of the day were Rolls-Royce, down 8.58p at 98.42p; Smiths Group down 70p at 1,472p; Informa, down 17.8p at 553p; and Croda, down 180p at 6,480p.