European stocks boosted by vaccine and EU recovery fund hopes

Markets report: Iseq finishes marginally higher

European shares turned higher on Monday, helped by encouraging data from an array of coronavirus vaccine candidates and after EU leaders sketched a framework agreement on a recovery fund to stimulate the pandemic-stricken euro zone economies.


The Irish index of shares finished marginally higher, gaining 0.7 per cent over the day to close at 6,265.73.

Index heavyweight CRH showed some gains over the day, ending at €34.05, or 1.95 per cent higher. Builders' merchant Grafton showed similar growth, gaining 1.6 per cent over the day to finish at €10.50.

Ryanair saw its shares dip further on Monday, hitting a low of €10.80 during the session, before recovering some ground to finish the day at €11.07.


Banking stocks fell, with AIB shedding 0.5 per cent to close €1.19, and Bank of Ireland losing 0.76 per cent, slipping to €1.829.

Property fund Ires Reit rose 1 per cent to close at €1.41. The stock had hit a low of €1.384 earlier in the session.


The British blue-chip index ended down on Monday with energy stocks tracking a decline in oil prices, while AstraZeneca hit a record closing high on optimism over its Covid-19 vaccine. The commodity-heavy FTSE 100 index was down 0.5 per cent on the day, with BP and Royal Dutch Shell among the biggest drags as oil prices fell in anticipation of weaker demand.

Heavyweight drugmaker AstraZeneca helped cap some losses, rising 1.5 per cent after data showed its experimental Covid-19 vaccine was safe and produced an immune response in early-stage clinical trials in healthy volunteers. The stock ended shy of an intra-day high hit in anticipation of the announcement.

The mid-cap FTSE 250 closed 0.2 per cent higher, propped up by Future. The media firm surged more than 15 per cent after it forecast annual performance to be at the top end of market expectations.

Among individual movers for the day, Marks & Spencer fell slightly on a report that it planned to announce hundreds of job cuts in the coming week.


An index of euro zone shares rose 0.9 per cent reversing all of its opening losses, with the euro jumping to a four-month high.

An experimental coronavirus vaccine being developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford university was reported as producing an immune response in its first human trial, while US drugmaker Pfizer and German biotech firm BioNTech also provided additional promising data.

The pan-European equities index also reversed course to rise 0.8 per cent after German chancellor Angela Merkel said leaders now had a new basis for a deal on a €750 billion recovery fund and the bloc's next 2021-2027 common budget, worth about €1.1 trillion.

Defensive healthcare index rose the most in Europe, up 1.2 per cent as signs emerged that leaders of northern EU countries were willing to compromise on the recovery plan as talks in Brussels extended to a fourth day.

European markets had opened lower, with travel and leisure falling 0.9 per cent, the biggest sectoral decliner in Europe, while oil and gas companies and miners dropped 0.3 per cent each.

NEW YORK Technology shares led US stocks higher as investors awaited a flood of earnings reports later in the week.

The Nasdaq Composite rallied more than 1.5 per cent after underperforming the broader S&P 500 last week. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was negative. Microsoft, Intel, Tesla and Twitter are among the companies slated to deliver results this week.

Noble Energy advanced after Chevron agreed to buy the company for about $5 billion in shares. AstraZeneca gained after results from early vaccine studies showed promise. Investors are also keeping an eye on Washington, where lawmakers will begin hammering out a rescue package to replace some of the expiring benefits earlier versions contained.

Oil recovered, tracking a rally in US equities, but crude futures in New York were unable to eke out a strong rally after earlier, falling as much as 1.9 per cent in the wake of pandemic-driven demand concerns. Infections flared by a record level in Hong Kong, Los Angeles is on the brink of another stay-at-home order and the rate of people testing positive for the virus for the first time in Florida climbed to nearly 15 per cent. – Additional reporting: Reuters, Bloomberg

Ciara O'Brien

Ciara O'Brien

Ciara O'Brien is an Irish Times business and technology journalist