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Index up on ‘milder’ Omicron | Parsley Box falls again

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5pm: Market rises on virus reports

The FTSE 100 touched a six week high before closing 31.68 points higher at 7,373.34, the best level for two weeks, in its last full session before Christmas.

Sentiment has been helped by hopes the effect of the omicron variant on the economy will not be too severe, as well as a strong performance from Wall Street on Wednesday.

Scientists yesterday indicated that Omicron sufferers were much less likely to require hospital treatment than in previous Covid-19 outbreaks.

Edinburgh University published the research, which also suggested that booster jabs give “substantial” protection against the new variant.

Research from Imperial College London has indicated that people with PCR-confirmed Omicron are 15% to 20% less likely to need admission to hospital, and 40% to 45% less likely to require a stay of one night or more.

Travel and hospitality firms were in the spotlight with International Consolidated Airlines Group up 2.4%, easyJet 3.7% better and pubs group Mitchells & Butlers rising 3.44%.

Shares in Scottish ready meals firm Parsley Box added to yesterday’s 15% plunge by falling a further 2.5p (5.5%) to 34.5p, valuing the company at £19.7m, compared to its IPO valuation of £83.8m nine months ago.

Investors who were already spooked by profits warnings and supply difficulties were told yesterday that the company is seeking another cash call.

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