European Stocks Soar; Vaccine Rollout Prompts Optimism

European Stocks Soar; Vaccine Rollout Prompts Optimism

© Reuters.  © Reuters.

By Peter Nurse – European stock markets pushed strongly higher Monday, with investors banking on the rollout of vaccines to help stimulate economic growth in a region hit hard by the Covid-19 virus.

At 3:30 AM ET (0830 GMT), the DAX in Germany traded 0.5% higher, the CAC 40 in France rose 1% and the U.K.'s FTSE index climbed 1.7%.

Britain became Monday the first country to roll out the Covid-19 vaccine developed by AstraZeneca (NASDAQ:AZN) and Oxford University, a cheaper and more easily stored alternative to the vaccine developed by Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) and BioNTech (NASDAQ:BNTX), which is already in use.

This is another step forward in the global response to the pandemic, hopefully shortening the time before some form of herd immunity can be achieved and economies across the globe can reopen.

At the same time, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned that he may have to impose tighter restrictions as Covid-19 cases soar in his country, while Germany is likely to extend its national restrictions beyond Jan. 10 to curb infection rates that are still running high.

It’s not only in Europe where coronavirus problems exist. Cases remain very high in the U.S., and in Japan Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga confirmed the government was considering a state of emergency for Tokyo and three surrounding prefectures.

Still, there was some good news Monday, as the Caixin/Markit manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index for December came in at 53.0. Although below November’s 54.9, this reading indicated the Chinese manufacturing sector is still expanding.

The equivalent Spanish December manufacturing PMI release came in at 51.0, above November’s 49.8, and a number of European countries are set to follow suit later Monday.

In corporate news, shares in Entain (VIE:GVC), the parent of U.K. bookmakers Ladbrokes (LON:LCL) and Coral, soared 27% after the company rebuffed a bid from MGM Resorts (NYSE:MGM) International over the weekend, saying it "significantly undervalues" the company.

The corporate sector is otherwise largely quiet as the new year starts, but investors will be keeping a wary eye on Tuesday’s runoff elections in Georgia for two Senate seats that will determine whether the Republican Party keeps control of this branch of the U.S. government.

Oil prices climbed on expectations that a group of the world’s top producers will agree to continue to curb output next month at a meeting later in the day amid worries about demand growth as the Covid-19 pandemic rages.

OPEC and associated producers including Russia, a grouping known as OPEC+, decided at a meeting last month to raise output by just 500,000 barrels per day in January, still more than 7 million barrels a day below peak levels.

U.S. crude futures traded 2% higher at $49.50 a barrel, while the international benchmark Brent contract rose 2.2% to $52.95.

Elsewhere, gold futures rose 2.2% to $1,937.45/oz, while EUR/USD traded 1.2% higher at 1.2280.

Original Article

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