Investors shook off earlier Moderna vaccine euphoria yesterday, as a more subdued sentiment dragged UK markets into the red.
After hitting its highest level since June on Monday, London’s FTSE 100 retreated 55.96 points to 6,365.33 as traders booked their gains and remained wary of setbacks in the race towards a vaccine.
Travel and hospitality stocks that had risen over hopes of a return to normality slid, with National Express down 7p to 242.2p, JD Wetherspoon off 30p at £10.60 and British Airways owner IAG dropping 5.3p to 153.5p.
The losses, however, were not enough to offset recent market rallies, with the benchmark index still sitting at levels seen in June by close.
Separately, the pound rose against the US dollar on signs the UK and European Union are nearing a breakthrough on Brexit after David Frost, the chief negotiator, told Boris Johnson that a trade deal could be agreed as early as next Tuesday. Sterling advanced 0.4pc to $1.324.
Without another market-moving shock similar to the likes of Moderna’s 94.5pc-effective vaccine, individual stocks led movements yesterday.
Intermediate Capital Group was the top blue-chip riser, adding 123p to £16.89, after the investment firm revealed a surge in first-half profits on the back of “exceptional” investment activity since June.
The firm, which invests in a variety of assets including private debt, equity and infrastructure, reported a 29pc rise in pre-tax profits to £198m for the six months to September. It was buoyed by a 58pc rise in profits to £108m driven by the unwinding of unrealised losses on the value of its investments, as asset prices recovered following the first wave of coronavirus.
Analysts at Peel Hunt predicted the figures would spark major upgrades in expectations for the company’s current financial year.
Second in line was Imperial Brands, which rose 103p to £15.06, as the tobacco giant reported higher full-year sales.
Home repair services provider Homeserve was also on the up, adding 30p to £12.67. The FTSE 100 firm benefited from a surge in demand for home remodelling, as part of one of the few industries that has done well through the pandemic.
It posted an increase in revenue and adjusted pre-tax profit, by 17.2pc and 15.7pc respectively, and listed its dividend by 7pc to 6.2p.
Vodafone was a key drag, ending firmly in the red down 5.24p to 122.52p. This came despite its announcement over its towers giant, Vantage Towers, expecting to offer dividends worth €280m (£251m) next year.
Among other fallers was low-cost carrier easyJet, which slumped to its first-ever annual loss. EasyJet shed 15p to 762.6p. Since the Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine results just over a week ago, the stock is up around 40pc.