UK stocks closed higher Wednesday after news that the UK had become the first country to approve the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for emergency use with vaccinations expected to start next week.
In afternoon trading, Pfizer shares gained 3.5% while in Frankfurt shares of BioNTech closed 5% higher on the day.
At the close in London the FTSE 100 was was up 79 points or 1.25% at 6,463, with miners and energy stocks making gains while supermarkets, retailers and house builders drifted lower.
Sterling traded 0.5% lower against the US dollar at $1.3350, while Brent crude oil prices climbed 2.6% to $48.50 per barrel and gold finally caught a bid, gaining 0.9% to $1,828 per ounce.
The biggest gainer on the FTSE was London Stock Exchange (LSE), with shares bolting 10% higher £87.89 on unconfirmed reports that the European Union was set to approve its $27 billion takeover of data firm Refinitiv.
Shares in the world's largest security and cash handling company G4S (GFS) rallied 7% to a two-year high of 246p after Canadian suitor GardaWorld upped its takeover offer by 23.6% to 235p valuing the company at £3.68 billion.
The threshold for acceptance was reduced to 50% plus one share while the company also secured agreement with the pension fund providing a £770 million support package. The deadline for acceptances is 16 December at 1pm.
Chief executive Ken Murphy said, ‘While business rates relief was a critical support at a time of significant uncertainty, some of the potential risks we faced are now behind us.’ The shares dropped 2% to 224p.
The company said it had a strong opening order book of $101.7 million (£79.8 million) which provides excellent visibility and confidence for 2021. Despite the positive news, the shares dropped 9% to £42.20.
AIRLINES LOSE ALTITUDE
Passenger volumes in November amounted to 456,487, down from 2,974,812 in November 2019.
Flying capacity dropped 79% and the company’s load factor shrank by around 25 percentage points to 68.2%. The shares dipped 0.6% to £45.50.
Passenger volumes in November fell to 2.0 million, down from 10.9 million in November 2019. The shares dropped 1.6% to €15.56.
The bonds would be issued at par and expected to carry a coupon of between 0.50% and 1.25% a year payable semi-annually in arrears in equal instalments.
The initial conversion price was expected to be set at a premium of between 35% and 40% above the volume weighted average price of an share on the London Stock Exchange between launch and pricing of the offering on 2 December. The shares sank 6.7% to 328p.
In a trading update for the year to December, performance nutrition company Science In Sport (SIS:AIM) said underlying earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) for the year through December was expected to be around £1.0 million, compared to a £0.3 million year-on-year loss.
The improvement was expected despite an anticipated modest fall in annual revenue to £49.8 million, down from £50.6 million in 2019.
The company said total online revenues were 39% ahead year on year at £23 million to the end of November and are expected to grow to approximately 51% of total revenue for the full year, compared with 38% in 2019. The shares rallied 5.3% to 30p.
Shares in bars/cafes/restaurants operator Loungers (LGRS:AIM) jumped 8% higher to 240p after saying it has seen a strong recovery since reopening. For the 24 weeks to 4 October revenues declined 33% to £26.3 million reflecting 11 weeks of lockdown.
Like-for-like sales grew 25.1% from 4 July to 4 October with strong trading maintained until the second lockdown on 5 November.
The company said it had 60 sites in England that will remain closed under Tier 3, with 91 sites trading in Tier 2 and three sites trading in Tier 1. In Wales it has 14 sites that will be subject to increased restrictions from 4 December.
Loungers said it expected to return to an annual run-rate of opening 25 new sites a year during the next financial year to April 2022.
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