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Coronavirus vaccine hope sparks relief rally for shares

Emma Lunn
Written By:
Emma Lunn

The FTSE hit its highest level since August after US drug firm Pfizer announced that trials suggested its vaccine was more than 90% effective against Covid-19.

The positive news triggered one of the biggest single day movements in global equities for a long time, reviving investor appetite for airlines, hotels, energy firms and others hit hardest by the pandemic. Pfizer’s own shares climbed 9%.

The news came after stock markets around the world were boosted by Joe Biden’s victory in the US presidential election.

The FTSE 100 added roughly £82bn to the value of its shares in the market’s best day since March. Airline and energy stocks soared while Ocado shares were 11% lower.

Russ Mould, investment director at AJ Bell, said: “Investors are taking this to be game-changing news judging by how they are bidding up shares in large parts of the market.

“In particular, all the stocks that were badly sold off this year are now among the biggest risers of the day as investors assume the vaccine will be deployed successfully and there is now a greater chance of earnings recovery in the short to medium term.

“British Airways’ owner International Consolidated Airlines, holiday seller TUI and cinema operator Cineworld were among the stocks enjoying their day in the sun with very large share price gains.

“On the flipside, companies deemed beneficiaries of lockdown struggled on the market including an 11% fall in Ocado and an 8% decline in Just Eat Takeaway.”

Stocks connected with Covid-19 testing were also in retreat as investors took the view that their medium to longer term prospects were less attractive. Covid testing specialist Novacyt fell back 41% as the market started to price in reduced demand for its testing services.

Mould said: “Tech stocks were left behind in the rally as investors took the view that growth could be found elsewhere at much cheaper prices.

“In effect, we might be witnessing a massive rotation from growth to value, although the great unknown is whether this is sustainable.

“Value as an investment style has struggled for the past decade and over this period history showed that as soon as it got its moment in the sun, the style quickly lost momentum. Gold sunk nearly 3% to $1,894 per ounce as the market took the view that its safe-haven credentials were no longer required.”