Market report: Global stocks edge closer to record month on vaccine hopes

Louis Ashworth
·3 min read
NY markets bull
NY markets bull

Global stocks are heading for their best month on record after a string of vaccine successes and Joe Biden’s electoral victory.

MSCI’s broadest index of global stocks across developed and emerging markets is up around 13pc so far this month, and near the record highs touched in the wake of the US presidential election at the start of the month.

After a sharp multi-day surge once it became clear Mr Biden had secured victory, stocks pared back slightly in the second week of the month, but have gradually climbed back after a series of breakthroughs on treatments for Covid-19.

The subsequent second part of the rally has been marked by a rotation into 2020’s neglected stocks, particularly companies in the travel sector that have been devastated by the pandemic.

In a sign of the risk-on mood that has taken hold of investors, Bloomberg’s dollar spot index – a measure of the greenback’s strength against a basket of other major global currencies – hit a two-and-a-half year low on Friday afternoon.

The currency tends to weaken when investors are seeking riskier assets.

Oil prices have rallied alongside global stocks as the world caught a glimpse of a life beyond the virus.

It was a broadly muted day across London’s stocks, with the FTSE 100 pulling out of early losses to close largely flat. The FTSE 250 dropped heavily as investors reacted to England’s tough new tier regime for restricting the spread of Covid-19.

The notable exception was FTSE 250 speciality pharmaceuticals group Indivior, which plunged after it revealed that Reckitt Benckiser had filed a £1bn claim against the drug maker in a London court.

The claim related to an indemnity contained in an agreement signed between the two companies when Reckitt spun Indivior off into a standalone business in 2014, Indivior said.

It added that the claim was submitted to the Commercial Court in London on Nov 13, but the company had not yet been served. Shares plummeted 24.7p to 99.8p.

Indivior said: “The claim has not been served on [Indivior] and the company does not have any further details at this time.

“The company will assess with its advisers the background and merits to the case and will provide an update in due course.”

Severn Trent led fallers on the FTSE 100, closing down 62p at £23.88 after it reported a decline in first-half revenues on Thursday.

Citi analyst Jenny Ping said the group should “deliver high-quality and consistent operational outperformance” during the current regulatory period, but its shares “are also priced as such”.

Among mid-caps, Cineworld shares rose 3.5p to 58.7p after S&P upgraded the group’s credit rating to CCC from SD, or selective default, saying its debt issuance and covenant waivers had “reduced the risk of a payment default over the next 12 months”.

It added: “The company’s capital structure remains unsustainable over the medium term.”