London close: Markets finish higher amid Covid treatment optimism
London stocks closed well above the waterline on Monday, despite ongoing concerns about the pandemic, with miners pacing the gains as copper prices rallied and as hopes of a Covid-19 vaccine lifted sentiment.
The FTSE 100 ended the session up 1.33% at 6,176.19, and the FTSE 250 was 1.19% higher at 17,385.09.
“Equity markets are enjoying a bullish run, as optimism in relation to the drug stories surrounding Covid-19 is taking precedence over the health crisis,” said CMC Markets UK analyst David Madden.
“Pfizer and BioNTech are working together to produce drugs that will hopefully go on to be vaccines for Covid-19.
“Earlier today it was announced the Food and Drug Administration - the US regulatory body - has fast-tracked two of their four drugs.”
Madden did note that there were no guarantees that anything would come of such developments, but added it was still a step in the right direction, which had lifted market sentiment.
“On Friday, it was revealed that ‘remdesivir’ - the antiviral drug produced by Gilead Sciences - can reduce the fatality rate in Covid-19 patients by 62%, so at the moment there is a sense of hope on the health front.”
But despite the positive tone in markets, there was still a rise in new coronavirus infections in the US and elsewhere, with Florida breaking the record for the single biggest daily increase in confirmed infections among all US states over the weekend.
On home shores, the latest survey from Springboard showed that visits to shops in the UK more than halved in June despite the reopening of many non-essential shops from the Covid-19 lockdown.
Footfall fell 56.3% in June from a year earlier as a spike in activity the first week after reopening on 15 June petered out towards the end of the month.
The monthly decline was a big improvement on the 73.3% year-on-year drop in May when almost all shops were closed.
In the week after reopening footfall jumped 40% from a week before but in the final two weeks of the period activity rose 6.6% and 2.4%.
Footfall fell by 55% in both England and Wales compared with a 73% decline in Scotland and Wales where non-essential stores reopened later.
Visits to shops in central London were down 81% despite a spike in activity in the first week after reopening.
Activity varied greatly between locations in June from a year earlier, as footfall dropped by 65% on high streets and 62% in shopping centres, but by 32% in retail parks.
Springboard said that was partly because retail parks have grocers and homeware stores, which reopened earlier than other non-food retailers.
But the retail data company said the figures may indicate how bricks and mortar shopping will develop as retailers adjust to the new environment created by the crisis.
"The fact that retail parks are easily accessible by car, they are open air and comprise large spacious stores, makes them more appealing to consumers during the phases of easing lockdown restrictions," Diane Wehrle, Springboard's insights director, said.
"This is a sharp contrast with high streets and shopping centres which rely on a blend of shoppers, workers, students, tourists and residents to fuel spending.
“A large proportion of shopping centres are located within town centres.”
In equity markets mining stocks sparkled, with Rio Tinto up 3.12%, Anglo American adding 2.24% and BHP 2.39% higher, as copper prices surged on possible supply issues after workers at a Chilean mine owned by Antofagasta voted in favour of strike action.
Elsewhere, gold miner Centamin gained 1.92% after it reported higher second-quarter production and said it was on track to meet full-year guidance as it said the pandemic had not materially affected operations.
Security services firm G4S rocketed 9.25% by the close, after it said first-half profit would be significantly ahead of market consensus.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Fresnillo (FRES) 992.80p 5.62%
Scottish Mortgage Inv Trust (SMT) 959.00p 5.27%
Johnson Matthey (JMAT) 2,207.00p 4.40%
Avast (AVST) 578.50p 4.05%
Flutter Entertainment (FLTR) 10,970.00p 3.54%
Hargreaves Lansdown (HL.) 1,599.50p 3.25%
Rentokil Initial (RTO) 539.80p 3.21%
Rio Tinto (RIO) 4,760.00p 3.12%
InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) 3,885.00p 2.94%
Compass Group (CPG) 1,145.00p 2.69%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
Taylor Wimpey (TW.) 143.70p -0.90%
Melrose Industries (MRO) 117.35p -0.76%
Informa (INF) 437.00p -0.75%
RSA Insurance Group (RSA) 417.60p -0.55%
Standard Life Aberdeen (SLA) 262.00p -0.46%
JD Sports Fashion (JD.) 645.60p -0.37%
Barratt Developments (BDEV) 541.80p -0.33%
Schroders (SDR) 2,922.00p -0.27%
St James's Place (STJ) 955.00p -0.21%
National Grid (NG.) 870.00p -0.11%
FTSE 250 - Risers
G4S (GFS) 132.55p 9.25%
Hammerson (HMSO) 79.18p 7.70%
Capita (CPI) 40.50p 6.80%
Aston Martin Lagonda Global Holdings (AML) 48.74p 6.00%
Victrex plc (VCT) 1,931.00p 5.12%
Trainline (TRN) 439.20p 5.02%
Kaz Minerals (KAZ) 545.80p 4.56%
PPHE Hotel Group Ltd (PPH) 1,195.00p 4.37%
Cineworld Group (CINE) 56.60p 4.35%
Airtel Africa (AAF) 63.00p 4.09%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Savills (SVS) 770.00p -3.69%
Go-Ahead Group (GOG) 695.00p -3.47%
Hastings Group Holdings (HSTG) 169.30p -3.30%
LXI Reit (LXI) 109.60p -3.18%
Crest Nicholson Holdings (CRST) 214.40p -2.90%
Plus500 Ltd (DI) (PLUS) 1,271.50p -2.79%
National Express Group (NEX) 162.70p -2.05%
C&C Group (CCR) 238.00p -1.87%
Aggreko (AGK) 435.60p -1.85%
Softcat (SCT) 1,139.00p -1.64%