Surging virus cases have forced key economies including France to go into another lockdown, fanning fears about their stuttering recovery

London (AFP) - Stocks pushed higher on Wednesday following more encouraging news on the vaccine front.

Pfizer and BioNTech said a completed analysis of their experimental Covid-19 vaccine found it protected 95 percent of people against the disease – up from early data showing 90 percent effective, and announced they were applying for US emergency approval “within days”.

“News of an improvement in the effectiveness of the Pfizer vaccine helped markets to find their footing on what was otherwise an uneventful day,” said Chris Beauchamp, chief market analyst at online trading firm IG.

The gains were nowhere the surges seen on the initial announcements by Pfizer and BioNTech and rival Moderna.

The Dow climbed 0.5 percent in late morning trading.

In Europe, both Frankfurt and Paris both finished 0.5 percent higher, while London added 0.3 percent.

Beauchamp noted that the vaccine news is “shifting away from blockbuster news that electrifies markets to a more measured response to what is still good news for markets, the global economy and of course the human race.”

The gains were bigger for the vaccine makers, however, which shares in Pfizer climbing 1.9 percent and those of BioNTech jumping 4.7 percent.

While the mood on trading floors remains broadly optimistic about the long-term outlook, analysts said the coronavirus will continue to cause worry, especially in the short term as surging infections around the world threaten an already stuttering economic recovery.

Joe Biden’s US election win and the news of two successful trials of vaccine candidates have proved to be hugely successful helping global stock markets bounce back strongly from a painful October.

The successful vaccine trials have fanned hopes that life can begin to return to normal from the start of next year, particularly giving a boost to travel and tourism stocks.

Shares in Boeing rose 2.8 percent after US regulators cleared the 737 MAX to return to the skies, ending its 20-month grounding after two fatal crashes that plunged the company into crisis.

Crude prices jumped over one percent – a day after the OPEC+ club of oil producers agreed they had to be ready to act on output cuts to prevent another slump in prices.

Bitcoin continued its rally, surging above $18,000 in Asian trading hours, before pulling back.

The pound rose waiting to see if Britain and the EU can strike a post-Brexit trade agreement ahead of a December 31 deadline.

- Key figures around 1630 GMT -

London - FTSE 100: UP 0.3 percent at 6,385.24 points (close)

Frankfurt - DAX 30: UP 0.5 percent at 13,201.89 (close)

Paris - CAC 40: UP 0.5 percent at 5,511.45 (close)

EURO STOXX 50: UP 0.4 percent at 3,482.04

New York - Dow: UP 0.5 percent at 29,917.19

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: DOWN 1.1 percent at 25,728.14 (close)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng: UP 0.5 percent at 26,544.29 (close)

Shanghai - Composite: UP 0.2 percent at 3,347.30 (close)

Euro/dollar: UP at $1.1866 from $1.1862 at 2220 GMT

Pound/dollar: UP at $1.3292 from $1.3254

Dollar/yen: DOWN at 103.73 yen from 104.17 yen

Euro/pound: DOWN at 89.27 pence from 89.47 pence

West Texas Intermediate: UP 1.1 percent at $41.90 per barrel

Brent North Sea crude: UP 1.6 percent at $44.45