European stock markets 'shrug' at COVID vaccine news

British drugs group AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford said their jointly developed vaccine had shown an average 70-percent effectiveness in trials involving 23,000 people.

Stock market indicators

LONDON - European stock markets appeared unmoved Monday by news of fresh COVID vaccine results, as investors mulled glum economic data that could herald another virus-driven downturn.

British drugs group AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford said their jointly developed vaccine had shown an average 70% effectiveness in trials involving 23,000 people.

The results ranged between 62 and 90% efficacy depending on the vaccine dosage.

The announcement came after other trials of drugs developed by Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna announced effectiveness above 90%.

London's benchmark FTSE 100 index nonetheless ended the day with a decline of almost 0.3% , while AstraZeneca's share price gave up 3.8% to £80.

In the eurozone, the markets in Frankfurt and Paris were both almost 0.1% lower.

"The biggest benefits will be saved for tourism and hospitality," Oanda analyst Craig Erlam forecast.

The British pound rebounded however on reports that Brussels and London were set to unveil a long-awaited post-Brexit trade deal.

"The results of AstraZeneca and Oxford University's COVID-19 vaccine trial result failed to trigger a major rally in equities with the 70-percent efficacy result perhaps disappointing in comparison to the results from Pfizer and Moderna," said AJ Bell analyst Russ Mould.

"In relative terms one can understand why AstraZeneca's result only triggered a shrug of the shoulders from investors."

Monday's news came after Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech applied for emergency use authorisation for their drug, which could be rolled out next month.

Moderna is expected to make its own application soon.

The need for a vaccine has been underscored by soaring infection and death rates in the US and elsewhere as the northern hemisphere heads into winter, when viruses usually spread more.

Some US states have started imposing new restrictions, while European countries including England and France have already returned to partial lockdowns.

Europe's equity gains were also dented by a closely followed survey that showed economic activity had plunged in November with the fresh restrictions aimed at curbing the second wave of coronavirus - indicating a quick return to recession.

KEY FIGURES AROUND 1730 GMT

London - FTSE 100: DOWN 0.3% at 6,333.84 (close)

Frankfurt - DAX 30: DOWN 0.1% at 13,126.97 (close)

Paris - CAC 40: DOWN 0.1% at 5,492.15 (close)

EURO STOXX 50: DOWN 0.1% at 3,463.04

New York - Dow: UP 0.6% at 29,450.67

Hong Kong - Hang Seng: UP 0.1% at 26,486.20 (close)

Shanghai - Composite: UP 1.1% at 3,414.49 (close)

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: Closed for a holiday

Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.1835 from $1.1857 at 2200 GMT

Pound/dollar: UP at $1.3307 from $1.3275

Dollar/yen: UP at 104.31 yen from 103.86 yen

Euro/pound: DOWN at 88.93 pence from 89.32 pence

West Texas Intermediate: UP 0.6% at $43.00 per barrel

Brent North Sea crude: UP 1.0% at $45.96