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Shares fall as countries halt AstraZeneca vaccine rollout

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PA City Staff
·2-min read
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Share prices fell across much of the FTSE 100 on Monday as several European countries stopped the rollout of AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine, but the pharmaceutical giant shrugged off the news.

The London index erased gains that had peaked as high as 0.6% to end the day down by 0.2% after Germany, France and Italy joined the likes of Ireland and Norway in suspending AstraZeneca vaccinations.

It left the index at 6,749.7, a reduction of 11.77 points. However, none of the downward pressure came from AstraZeneca, which rose 0.5%.

The Norwegian Medicines Agency on Monday said it was investigating if there was any link between the death of a health worker in the country and the jab she had been given a week earlier.

The woman, who was younger than 50, according to local reports, is one of approximately 120,000 Norwegians to have been given the vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford.

The news caused other countries to join those already pausing the AstraZeneca vaccinations, and pushed markets lower.

“Though not enough to cause a sell-off – in part because the World Health Organisation has stressed there is no correlation between the vaccine and said cases – this update did prompt the markets to swing from green to red in fairly uniform fashion,” said Spreadex analyst Connor Campbell.

Commodity companies, including oil giants Shell and BP, were among the hardest hit companies on the day. The price of oil dipped slightly, with Brent crude hitting 68.67 dollars per barrel, a reduction of 0.8%.

On the continent, the Dax and the Cac had similar days to the FTSE 100, rising 0.2%.

The day’s biggest winner was gambling company Flutter Entertainment, which said it was considering selling some shares in its US unit. The company, which owns Paddy Power and Betfair, said it had not decided whether to sell a small shareholding in FanDuel, but the option was on the table. Shares rose 6.8%.

The US markets where FanDuel might soon find a place were also subdued on Monday. The two main indexes were slightly in the green, with the Dow Jones up only 0.1%, while the S&P 500 rose half that amount.

The pound was in negative territory against the dollar, dropping by 0.25% to 1.3883, and stayed practically flat against the euro, buying 1.1643.

The biggest risers in the FTSE 100 were Flutter, up 1,080p at 16,875p; Rolls-Royce, up 3.15p at 118p; Kingfisher, up 7.5p at 308.3p; IAG, up 5.2p at 217.6p; and Fresnillo, up 21p at 951.8p.

The biggest fallers were Evraz, down 18.4p at 554.6p; Standard Life Aberdeen, down 8.7p at 283.6p; M&G, down 6.5p at 219.1p; Rio Tinto, down 148p at 5,597p; and Phoenix, down 17p at 721.6p.