Watch: First Oxford vaccine dose administered in UK
UK-listed shares rose on Monday as Britain became the first nation in the world to begin rolling out the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine.
The FTSE 100 rallied as much as 3% at the start of the week but lost its lustre as the session wore on. Sentiment suffered due to a weak open on Wall Street and news of tightening COVID-19 restrictions in Scotland and England.
Earlier, investors were cheered by the roll-out of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine. 82-year-old Brian Pinker became the first person in the world to receive the vaccine, according to Sky News, as Britain began distributing the low-cost and easily transportable jab on Monday morning.
“These gains can be tied to the rollout of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine in the UK – the continuation of 2021’s great hope for ending the coronavirus pandemic,” said Connor Campbell, a financial analyst at SpreadEx.
Beyond the vaccine news, Monday marked the first working day of the post-Brexit era. The transition period for exiting the EU officially ended on 1 January 2021, a national holiday then in Britain. Monday (4 January) marked the first day of the new business-as-usual.
UBS issued a bullish note on the prospects for UK stocks now that Brexit has been resolved.
“We target 7,200 FTSE 100 for end-2021 and, given our bullish view on sterling, would highlight a forecast total USD return (including dividends) of c.21%,” strategists Nick Nelson and Joao Toniato wrote in a note published on Monday. “We see UK relative valuations recovering from c.20 year lows.”
The FTSE 100 rose as much a 3% in early trade. However, by the end of the day the index was up just 1.8%.
Momentum faded as UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said tougher restrictions would likely to needed to control the spread of COVID-19. Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon announced a return to a month-long lockdown from midnight on Monday.
“It may be true that the worst may be behind us and 2021 will be a much better year as compared to 2020,” said Naeem Aslam, chief market analyst at Avatrade. “However, it is important to keep in mind that the coronavirus situation is still getting out of hand in the U.K. The fact is that it will take some time to bring the coronavirus situation under control.”
Health secretary Matt Hancock refused to rule out another national lockdown on Monday during an interview with Sky News.
The fade in London was mirrored in the continent. Indexes in Germany and France had seen gains above 1% but ended the day weaker. The CAC 40 (^FCHI) closed up 0.6% in Paris, the DAX (^GDAXI) was flat in Frankfurt, the IBEX (^IBEX) gained 0.3% in Madrid, and the FTSE MIB (FTSEMIB.MI) rose 0.4% in Milan.
Shares had rallied strongly in Asia overnight. The Hong Kong Hang Seng (^HSI) and the Shanghai Composite (000001.SS) both gained 0.9%, the Shenzen Component (399001.SZ) and South Korea’s KOSPI (^KS11) both jumped 2.5%, and the ASX 200 (^AXJO) rose 1.5% in Australia. Japan’s Nikkei (^N225) was a laggard, falling 0.7%.
Watch: Will Interest rates stay low forever?