Stocks Bounce Back on Virus News

London, Feb 24 (AFP/APP): European and US stocks were boosted Wednesday by news that several million doses of a new coronavirus vaccine could be on the way.

After spending much of the day in negative territory, the London stock index closed with a gain of 0.5 percent. Frankfurt was up by 0.8 percent and Paris added 0.3 percent, while in midday New York trades, the Dow Jones index showed a gain of 0.9 percent. Interest rates for benchmark government debt declined, suggesting that “financial markets are much more optimistic about the economy” than the US Federal Reserve, according to Edward Moya, a senior market analyst at the online broker OANDA.

He referred to testimony by Fed chairman Jerome Powell before US lawmakers that showed “Powell is strongly optimistic about the economic outlook for the second half of the year, while the Treasury market seems to indicate that the recovery could take off in the second quarter”.

Financial markets bounced higher after the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) appeared ready to approve a single-shot Covid-19 vaccine developed by Johnson & Johnson. If so, a White House official said the administration planned to distribute at least three million vaccine doses next week. Documents released by the FDA indicated the vaccine had proven highly effective against severe cases of Covid-19 in Brazil, South Africa and the US.

“Basic refrigeration and the fact that it is a single dose vaccine could be a game-changer in the global fight against COVID,” Moya noted. Oil prices climbed well beyond the 13-month peaks reached Tuesday, and bitcoin rose to almost $50,000 after sliding the previous day on negative remarks from US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen.

Key figures around 1715 GMT

  • New York – Dow: UP 0.9 percent at 31,826.14 points
  • EURO STOXX 50: UP 0.5 percent at 3,705.99
  • London – FTSE 100: UP 0.5 percent at 6,658.97 (close)
  • Frankfurt – DAX 30: UP 0.8 percent at 13,976.00 (close)
  • Paris – CAC 40: UP 0.3 percent at 5,797.98 (close)
  • Tokyo – Nikkei 225: DOWN 1.6 percent at 29,671.70 (close)
  • Hong Kong – Hang Seng: DOWN 3.0 percent at 29,718.24 (close)
  • Shanghai – Composite: DOWN 2.0 percent at 3,564.08 (close)
  • Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.2144 from $1.2150 at 2200 GMT
  • Pound/dollar: UP at $1.4114 from $1.4113
  • Euro/pound: DOWN at 86.04 pence from 86.09 pence
  • Dollar/yen: UP at 105.90 yen from 105.25 yen
  • Brent North Sea crude: UP 2.6 percent at $67.09 per barrel
  • West Texas Intermediate: UP 2.5 percent at $63

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