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Yellen for US Treasury; AA backs offer; Daily Mail; Cineworld

10.30pm: Wall Street higher on vaccine and Yellen speculation

Wall Street stocks closed higher after the Wall Street Journal reported US President-elect Joe Biden plans to nominate former Federal Reserve chairman Janet Yellen to be the next Treasury secretary and the first woman to hold the post. There were overnight indications that President Trump is ready to concede to his rival.

Another round of positive Covid-19 vaccine headlines also boosted optimism among traders.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 327.79 points or 1.12%, while the S&P 500 was 0.56% firmer. The Nasdaq Composite closed 0.22% up.

The FTSE 100 closed slightly in negative territory despite confirmation that some of the lockdown restrictions in England will be lifted.

The index closed at 6,333.84, down 17.61 (0.28%) as an update from AstraZeneca on its potential vaccine with the University of Oxford having a 70% efficacy rate failed to excite traders.

4pm: Market closes lower

The FTSE 100 closed slightly in negative territory despite confirmation that some of the lockdown restrictions in England will be lifted (see below).

The index closed at 6,333.84, down 17.61 (0.28%) as an update from AstraZeneca on its potential vaccine with the University of Oxford having a 70% efficacy rate failed to excite traders.

Connor Campbell, financial analyst at Spreadex, said: “The AstraZeneca and Oxford vaccine update failed to recreate the kinds of gains produced by the Pfizer and Moderna preparations.

“If that news had been released before the Pfizer and Moderna statements, investors likely would’ve jumped for joy – in comparison to the 90% and 95% efficacy reported by those other trials, however, the Oxford vaccine can’t help but seem a tad disappointing.”

4pm: New Covid restrictions in England

Browns in York

Browns in York will be hoping for some Christmas cheer (pic: Terry Murden)

Gyms and non-essential shops in all parts of England will be allowed to reopen when lockdown ends next month, the prime minister has announced.

But there are warnings to pubs and restaurants.

Full story here

No New Year mass celebrations

Nicola Sturgeon today confirmed that the easing of Covid rules over Christmas would not be extended to cover new year celebrations.

The First Minister announced it was ‘likely’ families will be able to form extended household bubbles for Christmas but warned rules could only be eased ‘for a few days.’

8.30am: London rises on lockdown hopes

The FTSE 10O was modestly higher at 6,374.47 (+23.02 points) ahead of expected announcements on easing the lockdown restrictions.

7.30am: Zumo raising funds

Zumo, the Edinburgh based crypto-currency start-up, is looking to raise a further £10 million.

7.15am: Oxford / AstraZeneca vaccine update

Oxford University and AstraZeneca say their vaccine is 70% effective on average.

The jab is viewed as Britain’s best chance of mass-inoculation of the population by the end of spring.

Vaccines developed by Pfizer and Moderna in the US claim to be capable of achieving 95% protection but Oxford University and AstraZeneca say they have found no serious Covid-19 cases among any of 20,000 people who engaged in trials in the UK and Brazil.

AA

7am: AA recommends offer

Motoring rescue company is likely to recommend a 35p per share offer from TowerBrook Capital Partners and Warburg Pincus International valuing the company at £218m.

The proposal represents a premium of approximately 40% to the closing share price on 3 August of 25p.

The AA board has indicated that it would be willing to recommend a cash offer on the terms of the proposal and is engaged in advanced discussions with the consortium who have until 24 November to announce its intentions.

Aviva sells Italy stake

Aviva has agreed to sell its entire 80% shareholding in the Italian life insurance joint venture, Aviva Vita to its partner UBI Banca. Aviva says the transaction represents another important strategic milestone on its commitment to refocus its portfolio.

Cineworld

Cineworld secures funds

Cinema chain Cineworld has secured $750m of extra liquidity to support the business and says operational improvements put in place since the start of the pandemic will further enhance Cineworld’s profitability and resilience.

The group has agreed long term rent deferrals with key landlords, in conjunction with new lease agreements in some circumstances and discussions are continuing in relation to other potential abatements and deferrals.

“We look forward to resuming our operations and welcoming movie fans around the world back to the big screen for an exciting and full slate of films in 2021,” said Mooky Greidinger, CEO.

Daily Mail

Daily Mail profits fall by half

Daily Mail publisher Daily Mail & General Trust posted a 50% fall in pre-tax profits to £72 million from £145m last time.

CEO said Paul Zwillenberg: “The pandemic has brought significant disruption and change to our markets but the strategic and financial actions we have taken have ensured that we coped well and remained on the front foot.”

MailOnline performed strongly, growing revenue and profit margin while the company’s stake in online car buying service Cazoo is currently worth over £400 million, a return of over three times on its investment.

The board is recommending an increase in the dividend to 24.1p per share from 23.9p.

6.45am: Markets

The FTSE 100 is expected to edge into positive territory, according to the spread betting firms, ahead of news on the easing of lockdown measures.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson will make a statement on the re-opening of non-essential shops, gyms, pubs and restaurants and is reported to be ready to roll out mass testing in higher infection ‘tier-3’ areas of the country following a trial in Liverpool.

Stock markets in Asia were mixed as investors continue to monitor coronavirus developments.

South Korea’s Kospi rose 1.87% while Japan’s Nikkei 225 index fell 0.42%.

Chinese stocks were higher with the Shanghai composite rising 1.13% but Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index declined 0.08%.



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