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Covid vaccine breakthrough fuels broad global equity rally S&P 500 closes up 1.2% after big shift from tech stocks into economically-sensitive sectors Stocks were boosted by news that the Covid-19 vaccine being developed by drugmaker Pfizer and Germany’s BioNTech had been found to be more than 90 per cent effective
FT montage; Reuters Share on Twitter (opens new window) Share on Facebook (opens new window) Share on LinkedIn (opens new window) Save FT reporters 4 HOURS AGO 345 Print this page Be the first to know about every new Coronavirus story Get instant email alerts Global share markets roared higher in a rally led by companies hit hardest by the pandemic after Pfizer and BioNTech revealed a breakthrough in the race to find a vaccine for Covid-19. The drugmakers’ announcement that a vaccine had been found to be more than 90 per cent effective in a late-stage trial ricocheted through asset markets that had already been rising on optimism over Joe Biden’s victory in the US presidential election. Wall Street’s blue-chip S&P 500 index closed 1.2 per cent higher, having earlier been up 3.9 per cent to set an intraday record high. The Russell 2000 of small-cap stocks, seen as a barometer of the US economy, surged 3.7 per cent, but the Nasdaq Composite — which includes many of the tech stocks which have benefited from the shift to working from home — ended down 1.5 per cent. Further afield, Europe’s Stoxx 600 closed up 4 per cent, its best day since May. The MSCI’s All Country World index of global stocks set a record high, up 1.3 per cent on the day. “After the US election, the focus for investors turned back to Covid versus a vaccine,” said Mohammed Kazmi, a portfolio manager at Union Bancaire Privée. “Today, the vaccine is winning.” Airlines, hotels and aeroplane makers — three industries ravaged by the collapse in travel — were among the biggest winners. In the US, United Airlines, Delta Air Lines and American Airlines all rallied more than 15 per cent. British Airways’ parent IAG closed up 25 per cent in London, while Airbus closed up 19 per cent in Paris. Rolls-Royce, the UK jet engine maker, closed up 44 per cent, its biggest ever one-day gain, according to FactSet. Energy and financial groups led the S&P 500, with both sectors enjoying their strongest daily gains since March. In financials, JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America advanced more than 13 per cent. Groups seen as beneficiaries of the pandemic had the opposite reaction. HelloFresh, the meal delivery service, fell 15 per cent in Frankfurt while London-listed Ocado, the UK group that delivers groceries and sells technology to do so to big supermarket chains such as Kroger of the US, fell 12 per cent. Zoom, the videoconferencing service, fell 17 per cent. Investors also dumped government bonds on hopes that central banks would not have to go to such extreme lengths to stimulate economies if a vaccine put an end to the recent wave of restrictions. The 10-year US Treasury yield leapt 0.11 percentage points to 0.93 per cent, its highest level since March, with European bonds following in its wake. Mr Kazmi of Union Bancaire said he had sold some German debt following the vaccine news. “Everyone has been assuming that monetary policy needs to do more,” he said. “That remains the case, but maybe it doesn’t have to do quite as much.” Gregory Perdon, co-chief investment officer at Arbuthnot Latham, cautioned the news from Pfizer “looks good, and it smells good, but we’re far from a done deal and history shows that there have been a lot of false dawns”. In commodities, crude oil prices soared, with Brent crude settling 7.5 per cent higher at $42.40 a barrel. Oil has been one of the hardest-hit sectors during the pandemic as demand has fallen sharply, with airlines operating well below capacity and lockdowns and working from home having restricted driving. US oil companies’ shares soared. ExxonMobil and Chevron, the US’s two biggest crude producers, both gained more than 11 per cent. The vaccine news would “drive a big reversal in momentum”, said Manav Gupta, an analyst at Credit Suisse, as “portfolio managers will likely get neutral or even long the energy sector”. Recommended AnalysisCoronavirus treatment BioNTech and Pfizer raise hopes with breakthrough Covid-19 vaccine Gold, viewed by many investors as a safe place to park cash at times of uncertainty, slumped. The precious metal reached as high as $1,965 a troy ounce on Monday morning, before reversing course to trade 4.4 per cent lower at $1,865. Precious metal producers Fresnillo and Polymetal were the two biggest fallers in the FTSE 100 on Monday, off 15 per cent and 12 per cent respectively. “The vaccine can kill Covid-19 but not remove the mountain of debt that has been accumulated during the past six months,” said Ole Hansen, head of commodity strategy at Saxo Bank. “The fundamental reasons for holding gold has not gone away.” Corporate bond and loan prices jolted higher. A widely watched high-yield bond exchange trade fund — known by its ticker HYG — rose 0.8 per cent. Reporting by Adam Samson, Camilla Hodgson, David Sheppard, Neil Hume, Tommy Stubbington and Joe Rennison in London, Hudson Lockett in Hong Kong and Colby Smith and Matthew Rocco in New York Coronavirus: the global race for a vaccine | FT Interview Get alerts on Coronavirus treatment when a new story is published Get alerts Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2020. All rights reserved.