European shares hit eight-month high on renewed vaccine hopes

The German share price index DAX graph at the stock exchange in Frankfurt
FILE PHOTO: The German share price index DAX graph is pictured at the stock exchange in Frankfurt, Germany, November 6, 2020. REUTERS/Staff

November 9, 2020

By Ambar Warrick and Shreyashi Sanyal

(Reuters) – European shares jumped to an eight-month high on Monday after drugmakers Pfizer and BioNTech flagged strong progress in their COVID-19 vaccine, while Joe Biden’s election victory raised hopes of a more stable U.S. trade policy.

Pfizer Inc <PFE.N> and BioNTech SE <22UAy.F> said the experimental vaccine was more than 90% effective in preventing COVID-19, based on initial data from a large study.

The pan-European STOXX 600 <.STOXX> jumped nearly 4% and clocked its best day since late March. Travel and leisure stocks <.SXTP>, which have been the hardest hit by the pandemic, were among the best performing sectors, adding 7% to hit an eight-month high.

BioNTech’s shares jumped more than 15%, while Germany’s main stock index <.GDAXI> added 5%. The index was also boosted by positive trade data for September.

“News on the efficacy of a vaccine is an important piece of the puzzle needed for the global economy and markets to put the COVID-19 recession behind it,” said Karen Ward, chief market strategist EMEA at J.P. Morgan Asset Management.

“Coupled with Biden’s win, and a more predictable multilateral approach to issues such as trade and climate change, the stage is set for a more balanced return trajectory.”

Optimism over a win on Saturday by Democratic candidate Joe Biden in the U.S. election saw European stocks swiftly bouncing back, with the STOXX 600 trading about 11% higher in November so far.

But a resurgence in virus cases had hit markets hard last month, with the STOXX 600 losing more than 5% after the UK, Ireland and France all announced new nation-wide lockdowns.

Investor attention has also been on Brexit trade talks, with Britain saying it was open to a “sensible” compromise on fishing and that there was goodwill on both sides to progress towards a trade deal.

The export-heavy FTSE 100 <.FTSE> jumped 4.7%, while the British mid-cap index <.FTMC> added 5.2%.

In company news, German chipmaker Infineon <IFXGn.DE> gained 3.5% as it forecast a nearly 23% jump in revenue in the year ahead.

British homebuilder Taylor Wimpey <TW.L> surged 18.6% after saying it was set to deliver annual results towards the upper end of expectations as the housing market recovered quicker than expected from a coronavirus-led slump.

Volumes for STOXX 600 were 2.8 times their 90-day daily average by 1706 GMT as investors stormed to equity markets to play the Biden win trade and a positive COVID-19 vaccine update from Pfizer.

(Reporting by Sagarika Jaisinghani, Shreyashi Sanyal and Shashank Nayar in Bengaluru; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Shailesh Kuber)