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Moderna CEO pessimism on Omicron derails markets – AJ Bell

Victoria Hartley
Written By:
Victoria Hartley
Posted:
Updated:
01/12/2021

Moderna drugs boss Stephane Bancel said existing vaccines ‘will struggle’ with the Omicron variant, which triggered a sell off in shares and oil prices today.

AJ Bell investment director Russ Mould, said: “Markets hate uncertainty, and this is precisely what we have now. No one knows how much trouble the new variant is going to cause, and so it seems plausible that we will see heightened volatility on the markets until there is adequate data to better understand the lay of the land.

“However, in the bigger scheme of things, today’s sell-off could have been a lot worse. European markets were down one per cent or less. That’s become a normal day’s movement on many occasions over the past year or so.”

Mould said the biggest contributor to the FTSE 100’s 0.8 per cent decline in points terms was pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, possibly due to the Moderna boss warning.

He added: “Though it would be far too premature to see that happen immediately given the lack of sufficient data to prove Stéphane Bancel’s theory.”

 

Easyjet

The travel industry’s woes have been well documented and Easyjet’s £1.1bn pre-tax loss makes for uncomfortable reading, said Mould.

“That’s the stark reality of the airline industry at present. The airline sector saw a flurry of activity this summer and then again during the October half term as travel restrictions began to ease and consumers felt more comfortable flying. A lot of people will have missed their usual summer foreign holiday for two years in a row so there is a feeling that summer 2022 could be a bumper period for companies like Easyjet.

“Fortunately [Easyjet] raised £1.2bn a few months ago and has enough money to see it through another difficult patch. But what happens if we get variant after variant of Covid-19? There are only so many times that shareholders will bail out airlines with another cash injection,” he added.

He suggested that consolidation appears inevitable.

“Easyjet has already been subject to a takeover approach thought to be from Wizz Air, and it is no doubt in the sight of other players like International Consolidated Airlines.”