Investing.com – European stock markets traded higher Wednesday, albeit with less dynamism than on Tuesday, helped by rising optimism over potential coronavirus vaccines.
Increased certainty in the U.S. political process, with President-elect Joe Biden finally formally beginning the transition to the White House, has helped market confidence.
But the major factor has been growing optimism that vaccines to treat Covid-19 will be available soon, with AstraZeneca (NASDAQ:AZN) reporting positive results for its candidate on Monday. Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) and BioNTech have already filed for emergency use authorization for their drug, while Moderna (NASDAQ:MRNA) said last week it expects to submit its filing in the coming weeks after establishing its drug’s effectiveness.
Workable vaccines are desperately needed, with the latest European PMI data pointing to a double-dip recession on the back of the recent government-mandated restrictions.
Some governments have started scaling back these lockdowns ahead of the important Christmas shopping period, but German Chancellor Angela Merkel is set to propose a further tightening of the country’s coronavirus restrictions until at least Dec. 20 after her country reported a record number of deaths in the last 24 hours.
In corporate news, Babcock International (LON:BAB) stock slumped 8.4% after the U.K. engineering group posted a drop in pretax profit for the first half of fiscal 2021 after the pandemic caused higher costs than expected.
Virgin Money (LON:VM) stock fell almost 10% after the U.K. financial services group took a 501 million pound ($669.54 million) impairment charge against an expected surge in bad loans.
The European data slate is largely empty Wednesday, but there are a lot of important numbers due out of the U.S. ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday, including jobless claims and the latest GDP release.
Oil prices continued to push higher Wednesday, despite data pointing to a build in U.S. crude supplies, as traders look to future increases in demand on the back of expectations of a prompt rollout of Covid-19 vaccines.
U.S. crude inventories rose by 3.8 million barrels last week, according to an estimate released Tuesday by the American Petroleum Institute, with the official government report due out later in the session.
U.S. crude futures traded 1.5% higher at $45.56 a barrel, while the international benchmark Brent contract rose 1.6% to $48.52, with both benchmarks above the $45 mark for the first time since March.