News that British regulators have approved Pfizer-BioNTech’s jointly developed Covid vaccine erased early losses on European markets on Wednesday.
Irish banks continued their recent strong run. AIB held a capital markets day on Wednesday, helping it to jump 5.37 per cent to €1.667. Peer Bank of Ireland added 3.55 per cent to close at €2.972.
Dealers said that of the pair, AIB saw the strongest activity on Wednesday with around 10 million shares changing hands in Dublin.
House builder Cairn Homes, which has also been popular with investors lately, advanced 2.24 per cent to €1.002.
Building materials and insulation specialist Kingspan Group shed 4.37 per cent to €67.80.
Among other leading stocks, packaging group Smurfit Kappa was down 1.04 per cent at €36.30.
Dealers noted that Brexit concerns continued to weigh on investors in the Irish market.
Woodies DIY owner and builders’ merchant Grafton Group fell 3.89 per cent to 864.5 pence sterling. The Irish company has significant businesses in Britain and its sole listing is in London.
C&C, maker of Bulmers’ cider, added 4.6 per cent to 239p. Dealers said that investors are betting on a recovery in the pub and hospitality businesses in 2021.
Shares in the London Stock Exchange jumped 9.6 per cent to 8,754p after sources said the company is set to win EU antitrust approval for its $27 billion acquisition of data analytics company Refinitiv.
Mining giant Rio Tinto rose 4.83 per cent to 5,239p, aiding a 1 per cent rise in the blue chip FTSE 100 Index that followed news of the local regulator’s decision to approve the coronavirus vaccine. Rival BHP Group climbed 5.65 per cent to 1,856.2p.
Bank BHP Holdings added 3.02 per cent to 418.35p, making one of the FTSE’s biggest gainers on Wednesday.
AstraZeneca, the British group also working on a vaccine, added 1.76 per cent to 7,937 on news that the competing treatment had won approval.
Tesco saw shares drop after it revealed plans to return its £585 million business holiday to the government. It closed 1.9 per cent lower at 224.5p amid investor concerns that the move would diminish its profits for the year.
JD Wetherspoon dipped after founder Tim Martin sold £5 million worth of shares in his pub chain just days after warning new coronavirus restrictions will keep almost half of his sites shut. Shares fell 1.96 per cent to 1,152p after he offloaded 431,500 of the company’s shares at a price of 1,166p each.
Shares in BionNTech, the German partner in the breakthrough vaccine, surged 5.6 per cent in Frankfurt to €100.12.
However, Germany’s Dax Index was down overall on reports that the federal government there intended extending Covid curbs on restaurants and hotels.
Spanish stocks closed up 1 per cent, near levels last seen in early March. Spain’s economic recovery, which started in the third quarter most likely continued this quarter, Economy Minister Nadia Calvino said.
Shares in Pfizer were up more than 3.3 per cent at $40.72 shortly after 6:00pm Irish time as investors reacted to news that the US pharmaceutical giant’s vaccine had won approval from the British medicines’ watchdog.
Its partner BioNTech, whose stock is also listed on New York’s Nasdaq, was up around 6 per cent.
However, Wall Street’s main indices were travelling in the opposite direction as Europe closed. Observers blamed bleak jobs data, although there was growing optimisim about the prospect of a pandemic support deal winning lawmakers’ support.
At around 5:20pm Irish time, the Dow Jones Industrial Average had slid 25.57 points or 0.09 per cent to 29,798.35 and the S&P 500 gained 0.81 points or 0.02 per cent to 3,663.25.
The Nasdaq Composite lost 13.94 points, or 0.11 per cent, to 12,341.16, weighed down by a 3 per cent slide in the shares of soon-to-be an S&P 500 member Tesla. Additional reporting – Reuters