The Omicron roller-coaster ride was in full swing once again as investors struggled to make up their minds about the latest Covid variant.
The FTSE 100 closed up 1.6 per cent, or 109.23 points, at 7168.68 while the FTSE 250 climbed 1.8 per cent, or 393.01 points, to 22,912.73.
Gains were made after an official at the World Health Organisation said Covid vaccines appear to work against Omicron, adding that most cases appear to be mild.
Hopes: The FTSE 100 bounced back 1.6% after an official at the World Health Organisation said Covid vaccines appear to work against Omicron
Traders were also cheered by Biontech chief executive Ugur Sahin who urged people to stop ‘freaking out’. Biontech developed one of the world’s most widely-used jabs with Pfizer.
His comments come after Moderna boss Stephane Bancel caused a storm on Tuesday by warning that vaccines would be much less effective.
One trader said: ‘Sahin is a trained oncologist and immunologist. Bancel is a businessman. I know who I believe.’
Stock Watch – Brickability
Brick and roofing seller Brickability has been boosted by the bounce in the construction sector since lockdown restrictions eased in March.
In the six months to September revenue soared 197 per cent to £223.5million, up from £75.3million a year before.
The bricks division had the sharpest increase in revenue, up by 229 per cent, while roofing, heating, plumbing and joinery increased by more than 50 per cent.
The firm said that the UK housebuilding market remained strong and noted that the industry is forecast to continue to grow substantially.
The shares rose 3.3 per cent, or 3.5p, to 109p.
Airlines, oil giants and miners all pushed higher on hopes that the world will not return to mass lockdowns and restrictions.
British Airways owner IAG was up 3.4 per cent, or 4.3p, to 131.76p, Glencore climbed 3.6pc, or 12.7p, to 369.8p and Rolls-Royce gained 3 per cent, or 3.64p, to close at 126.14p.
Among popular mid-cap stocks on the march, cinema chain Cineworld surged 4.4 per cent, or 2.05p, to 49.05p and low-cost airline Easyjet rose 4.3 per cent, or 21.5p, to 518p.
Oilers were helped by a 4pc rise in the Brent crude price to $72 per barrel. BP moved 2.3 per cent, or 7.45p, higher to 323.9p and Shell was up 1.9 per cent, or 30.4p, to 1607.8p.
Heading in the other direction were stocks that tended to perform strongly during lockdowns. Ocado lost 3.1 per cent, or 56p, to close at 1739.5p and Hargreaves Lansdown was off 0.7 per cent, or 9.5p, at 1327.5p.
BT was on the charge as takeover chatter around the telecoms giant shows no sign of waning.
The Government is understood to be monitoring the situation at BT after a report that Reliance Industries, the Indian oil-to-telecoms conglomerate controlled by Mukesh Ambani, India’s richest businessman, was weighing up a takeover bid.
Activist investor Patrick Drahi, founder of Altice, the French telecoms group, also remains in the picture as BT’s largest shareholder, with a 12.1 per cent stake.
Drahi, 58, committed to not making an offer for six months in June but this deadline expires at the end of next week.
The City believes a storm is brewing and shares gained 4.9 per cent, or 7.7p, to finish at 166.3p.
But the stand-out performer was van hire firm Redde Northgate, which has surged during the pandemic. Its vans were desperately needed for the rise in online shopping while stores were shut.
Half-year profits jumped 177 per cent to £78.9million, sending it 11 per cent, or 43.5p, higher to 438.8p.
Analysts at Peel Hunt, Barclays, and Stifel & Singer Capital Markets all upgraded their numbers on the stock.
Redde has also been touted as a potential takeover target for private equity, although its strong performance over the past year could make it too expensive for opportunistic vultures.
Sir Martin Sorrell venture S4 Capital lost ground despite its 12th deal in 11 months. It snapped up Maverick Digital, a Chicago company, that helps companies including McDonald’s and Unilever use the Salesforce platform.
The terms weren’t disclosed. Sorrell said he was ‘delighted’ but shares fell 0.5 per cent, or 3p, to 582p.
It was also a day to forget for Peel Hunt. The small and mid-cap broker has had a good pandemic, raising cash for clients and advising on flotations.
Its own float at 228p in September on AIM valued it at £280million and raised £70million for staff and other investors.
But yesterday it said revenue sank 23 per cent to £71million in the half-year ahead of the float. Profit halved to £29million. Shares were flat at 210.5p.
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