Drugmakers help lift British blue-chip index to best day in almost three months

The FTSE 100 ended 2.4 per cent higher after a three-week losing streak, with Astrazeneca’s stock move providing the biggest boost to the index as the British drugmaker struck a deal with Australia’s CSL to manufacture its coronavirus vaccine. — Reuters pic
The FTSE 100 ended 2.4 per cent higher after a three-week losing streak, with Astrazeneca’s stock move providing the biggest boost to the index as the British drugmaker struck a deal with Australia’s CSL to manufacture its coronavirus vaccine. — Reuters pic

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LONDON, Sept 8 — Britain’s blue-chip FTSE 100 index bounced off a near four-month low yesterday as Astrazeneca and GlaxoSmithKline rose on news about their respective Covid-19 vaccines, while a weaker pound helped exporters.

The FTSE 100 ended 2.4 per cent higher after a three-week losing streak, with Astrazeneca’s stock move providing the biggest boost to the index as the British drugmaker struck a deal with Australia’s CSL to manufacture its coronavirus vaccine.

Meanwhile, GlaxoSmithKline also rose on new details on the pricing of its vaccine.

Britain’s domestically-focussed FTSE 250 rose for the first time in three sessions, up 1.7 per cent, after a US-technology rout spread into other sectors last week.

Still, trading volumes were muted on account of a US market holiday.

British stocks sank further from pre-pandemic highs last week, as doubts persisted over an economic recovery.

The pound fell sharply after Britain warned the European Union that it could effectively override the divorce deal it signed unless the bloc agrees to a free trade deal by October 15.

“The probability of a deal seems to be reducing with state aid the surprising current sticking point... This has certainly raised the stakes at a fraught time in talks,” Deutsche Bank strategist Jim Reid said.

The sterling’s weakness helped major resource exporters, with BP and Rio Tinto among the other stocks whose weightings on the FTSE 100 helped lift the index.

Shares of homebuilders jumped 2.3 per cent after data showed British house prices hit a record high in August, adding to signs of a post-lockdown housing market boom.

And Associated British Foods rose 0.5 per cent after saying trading in its latest quarter exceeded expectations. — Reuters

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