The vaccine hopes that helped save global markets from a drop on Wednesday again gave London’s top shares a boost on Thursday.
Although it is early days, Pfizer and BioNTech said they had seen hopeful signs in a trial of a vaccine they hope can inoculate against Covid-19.
“Stocks were pushing higher this morning on the back of the news that Pfizer and BioNTech saw positive results from their drug trial that they are hoping will be a vaccine for Covid-19,” said CMC Markets analyst David Madden.
And the good news merely continued, as the US economy added a record 4.8 million new jobs in June.
It helped the FTSE 100 end the day up a healthy 82.4 points to 6,240.36, a rise of 1.3%.
However, the US jobs market is far from out of the woods as the new jobs added in July are still only a small part of the more than 40 million that were lost during the worst days of the pandemic.
“The US labour market still has a long way to go but it is clearly heading in the right direction. The jobs data spurred on the buying of stocks as the recovery is on traders’ minds,” Mr Madden said.
Unsurprisingly the news also boosted markets in New York, where the S&P 500 and Dow Jones were both up by 1% just after European traders went home for the day, having sent Paris’s Cac up 2.5% and Frankfurt’s Dax up 2.8%.
The pound was down 0.1 against the dollar to 1.2462 and up 0.1 against the euro to 1.1095.
In company news, a surge in demand for online retail deliveries may have helped cardboard box maker DS Smith notch up double-digit growth in e-commerce sales, but its shares took a single-digit fall, down 6.9%.
Meanwhile, engineering giant Meggitt had a better day, up 6.2%, despite warning investors to expect a sharp fall in revenue during the last quarter as planes were grounded by the coronavirus pandemic.
All Bar One owner Mitchells & Butlers posted a small 0.5% gain after it swung to a £121 million half-year loss due to the lockdown.
AB Foods, which owns Primark, surged 4.2% after saying that sales had been “encouraging” after it reopened sites. It nevertheless expects to take a big hit to profits.
The biggest risers on the FTSE 100 were IAG, up 12.5p to 231.7p, Royal Bank of Scotland, up 5.55p to 125p, HSBC, up 16.8p to 389.1p, Whitbread, up 96p to 2,349p, and AB Foods, up 81.5p to 2,046p.
The biggest fallers on the FTSE 100 were DS Smith, down 22p to 296.7p, National Grid, down 51.8p to 939.2p, Smurfit Kappa, down 110p to 2,548p, CocaCola HBC, down 39.5p to 1,983.5p, and Sainsbury, down 2.8p to 200.4p.