European bourses tread water while US stocks rise on official Pfizer approval

Vaccine OK raises hope of quicker recovery

European stocks ended flat on Tuesday as investors held back from making big bets ahead of an update on US monetary policy, even as data outlined a stronger-than-expected economic recovery in Germany.

In the US, the S&P 500 and Nasdaq hit record highs, boosted by oil and travel-related stocks, after a full US approval of a Covid-19 vaccine raised hopes of a quicker economic recovery.

Dublin

The Iseq rose by almost 0.4 per cent on weak volumes, tracking slightly ahead of some of its European peers.

Dalata, the republic’s largest hotel company, finished the session ahead by almost 1.3 per cent to €3.61, as travel related stocks were back in vogue with hopes of a boost from vaccinated US tourists.

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Ryanair was up 2.3 per cent to €16.46 as it said it is on track to hit updated guidance on passenger numbers.

Exploration stocks rose on hopes of a strong recovery in resource-hungry China. Kenmare Resources finished ahead by 3.8 per cent to €5 per share.

London

The FTSE 100 rose as commodity-related gains outweighed weakness in consumer staples and pharmaceutical stocks, while easing worries about central banks tapering stimulus kept sentiment in check.

Real estate stocks fell 0.3 per cent after official data showed the number of homes sold in the UK fell by more than half last month after the scaling-back of a tax break designed to encourage home purchases during the virus crisis.

Rio Tinto gained 3 per cent after the miner said it had restarted operations at its Richards Bay Minerals project in South Africa after a furnace in July was shut down, affecting the supply of raw materials.

Wood Plc fell 0.2 per cent after the engineering and consultancy firm forecast lower annual revenue and reported a 14.1 per cent fall in first-half profit.

Marks and Spencer Group rose 4.1 per cent after Berenberg and Credit Suisse raised their price targets on the UK retailer's stock.

Europe

The pan-European Stoxx 600 index closed largely unchanged at 471.79 points, following a selloff last week that knocked it off record levels. Commodity-linked sectors continued to outpace the general market, as oil and metal prices rose on expectations of a recovery in major importer China. Basic resources stocks were the best performers for the day, rising 2.0 per cent.

Travel stocks also surged nearly 2 per cent after US health regulators granted full approval to the Covid-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech in a move that could accelerate US inoculations.

German stocks rose 0.3 per cent as data showed Germany’s economy grew by 1.6 per cent on the quarter from April to June, slightly up from its previous estimate of 1.5 per cent, helped by private consumption and state spending.

Norwegian salmon farmer Bakkafrost gained 1.9 per cent following its second-quarter results. Novartis slipped 1.7 per cent after the Swiss drugmaker said its Kymriah CAR-T therapy did not meet the primary endpoint in a late-stage study.

New York

Cruise operators including Carnival Corp rose more than 3 per cent, while casino companies MGM Resorts and Wynn Resorts added between 2.9 per cent and 4.7 per cent on hopes that the FDA approval would increase vaccination rates and spark a stronger rebound in travel and leisure.

The S&P 1500 airlines index rose 3.2 per cent.

A rally in US-listed Chinese technology stocks also boosted the Nasdaq, with Pinduoduo surging 17 per cent after the e-commerce platform reported its first ever quarterly profit.

Shares of JD.com also gained 10.6 per cent a day after its results and on comments that the Chinese online retail giant does not expect any business impact from a wave of regulations hitting the industry at home.

Best Buy Co gained 5.5 per cent after it raised its full-year comparable sales forecast, as the electronics retailer expects demand to be resilient. – (Additional reporting: Reuters)

Mark Paul

Mark Paul

Mark Paul is Business Affairs Correspondent of The Irish Times. He also writes the Caveat column