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AstraZeneca vaccine news drags on FTSE, but mid-caps immune

11/23/2020 | 12:47pm EST
FILE PHOTO: FILE PHOTO: The London Stock Exchange Group offices are seen in the City of London, Britain

(Reuters) - British stocks rose on optimism over a COVID-19 vaccine on Monday, although gains in the FTSE index were curbed by a fall in shares of AstraZeneca after the drugmaker's candidate was less effective than others in trials.

The mid cap index added 0.4%, while the FTSE 100 fell 0.3%, with AstraZeneca marking its worst day in nearly six months with a 3.8% fall.

AstraZeneca said the average efficacy of its vaccine, which is being developed with the University of Oxford, was at 70% in its late-stage trial.

Although the British drugmaker said its potential vaccine can be 90% effective, its average rate was lower than for Pfizer-BioNTech's and Moderna's, which showed efficacy rates of about 94% to 95%.

"Even though the late stage trials were better than expected, AstraZeneca's shares didn't get a booster shot," Susannah Streeter, senior investment and markets analyst, Hargreaves Lansdown, said of the news.

"It has though added to the overall positivity washing around the financial markets about a faster end to the pandemic."

Britain's health minister said the country aims to roll out a COVID-19 vaccine before Christmas and ease restrictions next month, raising hopes of a sooner-than expected recovery and boosting consumer stocks.

While positive vaccine-related headlines have helped British stocks gain this month, they have still underperformed global peers due to uncertainty over Brexit negotiations, as the end of year deadline for a trade deal looms.

(Graphic: Brexit woes keep UK stocks global laggards - https://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/mkt/qmyvmxxqzpr/brexit%20and%20uk%20stocks.PNG)

While data showed that British business activity contracted in November due to a new wave of coronavirus lockdowns, news of possible vaccines sharply boosted hopes for 2021.

In corporate news, Cineworld Group jumped nearly 20% after it secured waivers for its debt covenants until June 2022, along with $450 million in new loans.

(Reporting by Devik Jain in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty and Alexander Smith)

By Devik Jain and Ambar Warrick

© Reuters 2020
Stocks mentioned in the article
ChangeLast1st jan.
ASTRAZENECA PLC -0.54% 7901 Delayed Quote.8.57%
EURO / BRITISH POUND (EUR/GBP) -0.29% 0.88276 Delayed Quote.-0.60%
HARGREAVES LANSDOWN PLC 5.25% 1779 Delayed Quote.10.30%
MSCI UNITED KINGDOM (STRD, UHD) 0.78% 1069.255 Real-time Quote.2.91%
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