Here are the top business, market, and economic stories you should be watching today in the UK, Europe, and around the world.
The pound rose on Wednesday thanks to news of an agreement between the UK and France to reopen border traffic.
France and the UK have struck a deal to restart lorry traffic after the border was closed on Sunday for fear of importing a new strain of COVID-19. A mass testing programme for lorry drivers will be rolled out from Wednesday as part of a new protocol to restart the flow of trade.
Sterling was up 0.3% against the euro (GBPEUR=X) to €1.101 in early trade in London. The pound was up 0.5% against the dollar (GBPUSD=X) to $1.3428. It marked an end to a two-day losing streak for both pairings.
Oil prices continued their overall descent for a third day on Wednesday following a surprise rise in US crude oil inventories and US president Donald Trump threatening to undermine his nation’s highly-anticipated second COVID-19 relief bill.
Oil markets are also still facing pressure from the novel coronavirus strain that has hit the UK, leading many countries around the world to close its borders to the country, further undermining gasoline-powered air and car travel. Coronavirus cases are also continuing to surge in the US, with more than a million new cases reported in six days, leading to warnings by US lawmakers for citizens to avoid Christmas travel, which will further dampen fuel demand.
Travel stocks rise despite COVID-19 fears
Travel stocks are continuing to head higher despite the newest strain of COVID-19 in the UK potentially bringing fresh restrictions in an effort to control the new variant, according to the UK’s chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance.
EasyJet (EZJ.L) was up 2.6% at around 10.15am in London.
Ryanair (RYA.L) has also been gaining, up 1.6%.
They are recovering along with other shares on the FTSE (^FTSE) as analysts argue that the initial shock of the new COVID-19 variant has worn off, and focus among investors now returns to the long-term demand that will come once restrictions are lifted and more people are immunised.
The FTSE slid lower at market open as the UK braces for more potential COVID-19 lockdowns and US president Donald Trump potentially derailing pandemic relief efforts.
The FTSE 100 (^FTSE) was down 0.2% at the market open in London. However, Germany’s DAX (^GDAXI) gained 0.6% in Frankfurt and the CAC 40 (^FCHI) was also higher 0.4% in Paris. The Europe-wide Stoxx 600 index (^STOXX) was up 0.4%.
More areas in the UK could see fresh restrictions placed on them in an effort to control the new variant of COVID-19, according to the UK’s chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance.
A tougher Tier 4 of coronavirus restrictions for London and much of south-east England is already in place. The whole of Wales has entered another lockdown. Mainland Scotland and Northern Ireland will start new lockdowns on Boxing Day.
Asian markets retraced losses earlier in the session. Japan’s Nikkei (^N225) gained 0.3% at market close, the Hong Kong Hang Seng (^HSI) was up 0.9%, and the Shanghai Composite (000001.SS) was up 0.8%. South Korea’s KOSPI (^KS11) headed up 1%.
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