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FTSE 100 rises as Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine rollout begins

Oscar Williams-Grut
·Senior City Correspondent, Yahoo Finance UK
·4-min read

Watch: First Oxford vaccine dose administered in UK

UK-listed shares rose on Monday as Britain became the first nation in the world to begin rolling out the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine.

The FTSE 100 rallied as much as 3% at the start of the week but lost its lustre as the session wore on. Sentiment suffered due to a weak open on Wall Street and news of tightening COVID-19 restrictions in Scotland and England.

Earlier, investors were cheered by the roll-out of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine. 82-year-old Brian Pinker became the first person in the world to receive the vaccine, according to Sky News, as Britain began distributing the low-cost and easily transportable jab on Monday morning.

The FTSE 100 (^FTSE) and the more domestically focused FTSE 250 (^FTMC) both rallied strongly. Shares in AstraZeneca (AZN.L) rallied 2%.

“These gains can be tied to the rollout of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine in the UK – the continuation of 2021’s great hope for ending the coronavirus pandemic,” said Connor Campbell, a financial analyst at SpreadEx.

Professor Andrew Pollard, Director of the Oxford Vaccine Group, and a professor of paediatric infection and immunity receives the Oxford University/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine from nurse Sam Foster, at the Churchill Hospital in Oxford, England, Monday, Jan. 4, 2021. England’s National Health Service says a retired maintenance manager has received the first injection of the new vaccine developed by Oxford University and drug giant AstraZeneca. Dialysis patient Brian Pinker became the very first person to be vaccinated by the chief nurse at Oxford University Hospital. (Steve Parsons/Pool Photo via AP)
Professor Andrew Pollard, Director of the Oxford Vaccine Group, and a professor of paediatric infection and immunity receives the Oxford University/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine from nurse Sam Foster, at the Churchill Hospital in Oxford, England, Monday, Jan. 4, 2021. Photo: Steve Parsons/Pool Photo via AP

Beyond the vaccine news, Monday marked the first working day of the post-Brexit era. The transition period for exiting the EU officially ended on 1 January 2021, a national holiday then in Britain. Monday (4 January) marked the first day of the new business-as-usual.

UBS issued a bullish note on the prospects for UK stocks now that Brexit has been resolved.

READ MORE: Ladbrokes owner Entain rejects $11bn offer from MGM Resorts

“We target 7,200 FTSE 100 for end-2021 and, given our bullish view on sterling, would highlight a forecast total USD return (including dividends) of c.21%,” strategists Nick Nelson and Joao Toniato wrote in a note published on Monday. “We see UK relative valuations recovering from c.20 year lows.”

The FTSE 100 rose as much a 3% in early trade. However, by the end of the day the index was up just 1.8%.

Momentum faded as UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said tougher restrictions would likely to needed to control the spread of COVID-19. Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon announced a return to a month-long lockdown from midnight on Monday.

“It may be true that the worst may be behind us and 2021 will be a much better year as compared to 2020,” said Naeem Aslam, chief market analyst at Avatrade. “However, it is important to keep in mind that the coronavirus situation is still getting out of hand in the U.K. The fact is that it will take some time to bring the coronavirus situation under control.”

READ MORE: Oil prices rise ahead of OPEC summit as crude demand set to rebound

Health secretary Matt Hancock refused to rule out another national lockdown on Monday during an interview with Sky News.

The fade in London was mirrored in the continent. Indexes in Germany and France had seen gains above 1% but ended the day weaker. The CAC 40 (^FCHI) closed up 0.6% in Paris, the DAX (^GDAXI) was flat in Frankfurt, the IBEX (^IBEX) gained 0.3% in Madrid, and the FTSE MIB (FTSEMIB.MI) rose 0.4% in Milan.

Sentiment in Europe wasn’t helped by trade on Wall Street. The S&P 500 (^GSPC), Dow Jones Industrial Average (^DJI), and the Nasdaq (^IXIC) were all down 2% by the time trade ended in Europe.

Shares in Ladbrokes-owner Entain (ENT.L) surged 28% in London after the company said it had rebuffed an $11bn takeover bid from MGM resorts.

READ MORE: BioNTech and Pfizer warn of vaccine supply gaps

Shares had rallied strongly in Asia overnight. The Hong Kong Hang Seng (^HSI) and the Shanghai Composite (000001.SS) both gained 0.9%, the Shenzen Component (399001.SZ) and South Korea’s KOSPI (^KS11) both jumped 2.5%, and the ASX 200 (^AXJO) rose 1.5% in Australia. Japan’s Nikkei (^N225) was a laggard, falling 0.7%.

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