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FTSE 100 rises despite record number of UK Covid deaths as traders hope for better times ahead

Jim Armitage
·3 min read
Josephine Faleye, 80, receiving the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine at the Royal Free hospital in north London (PA)
Josephine Faleye, 80, receiving the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine at the Royal Free hospital in north London (PA)

The FTSE 100 was set to gain today despite record Covid deaths in the UK which are set to get worse over the next fortnight.

Traders were expected to look beyond the pandemic crisis and short term impact of the crisis in a session being dubbed “Super Thursday” due to the huge number of companies reporting financial results.

Among those will be likely winners such as Boohoo and Tesco which benefit from people either shopping from home during the lockdown or eating in rather than dining in restaurants.

SUPER THURSDAY: LIVE RESULTS, UPDATES, ANALYSIS FROM THE STANDARD’S CITY DESK

One sector looking increasingly promising was the travel industry, where reports are beginning to indicate summer holiday sales growing strongly as people expect to be vaccinated in the coming weeks and months.

The BBC reported that older people were particularly optimistic in their booking patterns, with National Express’s summer schedule proving hugely popular when its brochure was released recently.

Standard Chartered shares may rise today as it appeared to be dealing with its succession issues at the top. The Financial Times reported that the group’s head of investment banking, Simon Cooper, was in the front of the internal pack of candidates to replace Bill Winters, chief executive. He is being dubbed the “heir apparent” internally after having overseen a strong performance of his division during the Covid crisis.

Like other banks, Standard Chartered’s investment banking arm had a strong year as corporate clients scrambled to raise equity and debt to get them through the Covid cash crunch.

Just Eat Takeaway.com’s decision to review its London stock market listing in favour of Amsterdam sparked concerns in the City yesterday. That will only be widened by today’s news that Polish ecommerce group InPost had decided to pick the Dutch exchange for its float instead of London.

London’s market is increasingly being seen as a market largely dominated by old fashioned oil and banking stocks while other countries snap up the faster growing technology companies.

The FTSE 100 tends to rise and fall depending on the oil price due to the dominance of BP, Shell and a plethora of mining companies. This has prompted a strong performance this year so far but contributed to its underperformance during 2020.

Today it was expected to make a modest gain of around 18 points to 6765.1 by traders on the IG Index platform as crude oil was set for a quieter session.

Underlying sentiment remains strong on global markets due to hopes of a multi-billion Covid stimulus package from Joe Biden when he is sworn in as US president.

Italy was plunged into a fresh political crisis as the influential Viva party withdrew its support for the ruling coalition. As CMC Markets analysts put it: “In the light of the Covid-19 crisis, this is the last thing the indebted country needs.”

China trade data this morning came in above expectations, with exports beating economists’ forecasts despite slowing a slight cooling from the November, perhaps signalling a cooling during December of global demand for PPE equipment which could reverse given the current rise in Covid cases.

Imports also put in a strong performance, highlighting the strength of its domestic economy as it recovers from the Covid crisis.

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