The FTSE-100 rose today as relief at Britain reopening more businesses was followed by positive afternoon news on a potential treatment for covid.
Widespread relief greeted the end of lockdowns on gyms, swimming pools and beauty salons amid hopes of a return to normality and confidence among the British public. But overnight, increasing cases of covid in Tokyo emerged, and Hong Kong tightened up its lockdown again. Alabama and Florida also saw shocking increases in cases, leading to shopping malls and leisure sectors closing again.
That was countered this afternoon by US studies showing anti-viral drug Remdesivir could be more effective than previously thought at treating patients. Maker Gilead saw its shares gain 3% this afternoon but the whole market took heart from the news.
The FTSE-100 today closed up 45.76 points at 6095.41 as a slow start to the session gathered pace from 9am and kept drifting upwards. The DAX in Germany gained 142.94 at 12631.38 and France's CAC-40 45.63 points at 4966.63.
Strong data on industrial production from France and Italy kept spirits higher than expected on the markets, which had been tipped to have a far flatter session.
A run of job losses from John Lewis to Burger King yesterday kept a lid on too much positive sentiment on consumer-facing stocks. As major retail and restaurant chains, the fear is that closures and redundancies will hit takings at neighbouring sites and have a knock-on effect on rents for landlords.
Traders were sniffing around shares in Rolls-Royce after yesterday's heavy fall following its grim £3billion outflow of cash in the first half of the year. Shares rebounded 4% after the 7% slide yesterday as bargain hunters moved in.
Silver and gold prices had a volatile session yesterday, rising to 10 month highs before retreating as the US dollar firmed. The US currency gained yesterday afternoon as investors moved out of shares, CMC Markets said. The dollar rose again today amid US-China tensions, hitting gold prices, but the underlying sentiment is strong. Miner Fresnillo was a big gainer, up 2%.
Much of the FTSE-100's gains were made from utilities which recovered from falls in the previous session caused by the power industry's standoff with Ofgem over green energy investment. National Grid leaped 2% on bargain hunting after yesterday's tumble.
Barclays jumped 5% after getting positive comments from brokers, while Whitbread closed up 4% as analysts warmed to the ending of lockdown rules on hotels.
Other big FTSE-100 risers were Melrose and Homeserve. Biggest fallers were Hikma Pharmaceuticals, AB Foods and British American Tobacco.
Shares in The Restaurant Group crashed 5% after it said one in 10 restaurants will not reopen in 2020.