Global share prices surge after Moderna raises hopes of second Covid-19 vaccine breakthrough

Airlines, oil companies and plane-makers see strongest gains as markets rise

Ben Chapman
Monday 16 November 2020 19:27
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Company share prices surged on Monday after news broke that another coronavirus vaccine breakthrough had taken place.

Early data from US pharmaceutical firm Moderna indicated that its vaccine was 94.5 per cent effective at preventing illness from coronavirus.

Matt Hancock, the health secretary, told a Downing Street press conference that the government had an “initial agreement” with Moderna for 5 million doses of the vaccine, which would treat 2.5 million people.

Amid “much uncertainty, we can see the candle of hope and we must do all that we can to nurture its flame”, he said.

Moderna’s announcement followed news last week that a vaccine being developed by Pfizer also showed promising early results.

In London the FTSE 100 share index closed 1.7 per cent higher at 6,421.29, propelled by a resurgence of companies worst affected by the pandemic.

British Airways owner International Consolidated Airlines Group soared 9.7 per cent, engine maker Rolls-Royce was up 8.7 per cent and hotel and pub group Whitbread climbed almost 11 per cent.

Oil companies Shell and BP rose 6.7 per cent and 6 per cent respectively.

On Wall Street, the S&P 500 index added to its record high reached last week and the Dow Jones Industrial Average was on track to recover to its pre-pandemic level.

Moderna's announcement has added to a renewed sense of optimism that fight against Covid-19 may soon turn a corner, reducing deaths and allowing economies to return to something close to normality.  

According to early data released by Moderna, its vaccine is 94.5 per cent effective in preventing disease among infected individuals and appears to be safe. Vaccination requires two jabs, administered 28 days apart.

This efficacy rate is based on independent analysis of 95 infections that have been recorded among the firm’s ongoing phase-three trial. Covid-19 was observed in 90 volunteers from the placebo group and five participants who had received the vaccine.

On Monday the S&P 500 was 1.1 per cent higher by midday in New York while the Dow up 412 points, or 1.4 per cent, at 29,922.  

The technology-focused Nasdaq composite was 0.7 per cent higher. Tech stocks, many of which have benefited from changes to lifestyles during the pandemic as office workers stay home and more people shop online, rose less strongly. Amazon ticked up 0.4 per cent while telecoms software maker Zoom fell 3.8 per cent.

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