Markets Calmer after Vaccine-induced Surge


Financial markets were calmer Tuesday but sizeable gains continued for some stocks and oil prices on hopes for a coronavirus vaccine.

"Yesterday's market surge was arguably a knee-jerk reaction to the potential game-changing (vaccine) news with more consideration paid to the potential rewards than the risks," noted Russ Mould, investment director at AJ Bell.

"That said, the vaccine news from Pfizer was very encouraging and investors have every right to be more bullish.

"After all, the stock market is all about pricing in what people think might happen, not what’s already happened."

US pharma giant Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech on Monday revealed that their vaccine candidate was 90 percent effective in preventing Covid-19.

The scientific community reacted positively, with top US expert Anthony Fauci describing the results as "extraordinary" and World Health Organization boss Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus hailing the news as "encouraging".

But others pointed out that data from the ongoing trial was still needed for review, including the ages of the participants.

In trading Tuesday, London's benchmark FTSE 100 index was up 1.6 percent approaching midday, having closed up almost five percent the previous session.

Gains among individual share prices were led by companies that have been hammered for most of the year by lockdowns, particularly airlines. 

Top Asian indices, playing catch up with Pfizer's news, ended mixed on Tuesday, with Tokyo up 0.3 percent, Hong Kong gaining 1.1 percent and Shanghai closing down 0.4 percent.

Singapore and Bangkok each soared more than three percent.

Among individual stocks, Japan Airlines cruised more than 20 percent higher.

However tech firms which have benefitted from people being kept at home retreated, as did medical equipment makers. 

- US vote -

The Dow on Wall Street ended with a gain of 3.0 percent Monday, lifted also by Joe Biden's US election win.

"The clearing of the election fog has permitted underlying market fundamentals to come back into focus and the most recent vaccine news suggests a 'return to normality' should be coming sooner rather than later," said Seema Shah of Principal Global Investors.

"All the chips are starting to line up, and market sentiment may be in the early stages of a burst of positive energy."

Biden's win provided a boost to investors looking for less chaos after four years of Donald Trump, and Republican success in holding on to the Senate will limit attempts by Democrats to push through big tax and regulatory changes.

A massive new US stimulus package is meanwhile yet to be agreed.

- Key figures around 1130 GMT -

London - FTSE 100: UP 1.6 percent at 6,286.32 points

Frankfurt - DAX 30: FLAT at 13,099.81

Paris - CAC 40: UP 1.3 percent at 5,404.95

EURO STOXX 50: UP 0.8 percent at 3,434.53

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: UP 0.3 percent at 24.905.59 (close)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng: UP 1.1 percent at 26,301.48 (close)

Shanghai - Composite: DOWN 0.4 percent at 3,360.15 (close)

New York - Dow: UP 3.0 percent at 29,157.97 (close)

Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.1789 from $1.1814 at 2230 GMT

Pound/dollar: UP at $1.3256 from $1.3160

Dollar/yen: DOWN at 105.29 yen from 105.31 yen

Euro/pound: DOWN at 88.91 pence from 89.92 pence

West Texas Intermediate: UP 1.0 percent at $40.69 per barrel

Brent North Sea crude: UP 1.2 percent at $42.92 per barrel