StockMarketWire.com - The FTSE 100 exploded into life just before lunch on Monday on news that a vaccine being developed by Pfizer is 90% effective against Covid.

The FTSE 100 was up 3.4% to 6,112.64 on hopes that the vaccine, one of several being developed globally, would provide a route out of the pandemic.

Retail and travel stocks as well as housebuilders, boosted by positive corporate news from the sector, were among the biggest gainers. Housebuilder Taylor Wimpey has said it expects to end the year with a net cash balance towards the upper end of its guidance after 'robust' sales in the second half, according to its trading statement.

The company projected it would end 2020 with a net cash balance towards the upper end of its guidance of between £550 million and £750 million, above the cash balance £545.7 million at the end of 2019 - subject to the timing of conditional land purchases.

Its share price rose 18.9% to 146.6p.

AstraZeneca's said its drug Calquence had received European Union approval for the treatment of adult patients with chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CCL) adding to approvals already received in the US and several other countries worldwide.

In Phase three trials Calquence combined with obinutuzumab and as a monotherapy reduced the risk of disease progression or death by 90% and 80% respectively compared with standard treatments.

AstraZeneca's share price was up 1.2% to £85.74.

GlaxoSmithKline's specialist HIV company ViiV Healthcare reported that interim analysis from the HPTN 084 study shows long-acting injectable cabotegravir administered every two months is 89% more effective than daily pills in preventing HIV in women.

This follows data from another study in men who have sex with men and transgender women which also demonstrated that cabotegravir was superior to oral pills.

GlaxoSmithKline's share price was up 2.7% to £14.37.

UK and US bus and rail company First Group has agreed covenant amendments for the 31 March and 30 September 2021 testing dates with its lenders.

The prior net debt to EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation) level of 3.75 times has been increased to 5.5 times and 4.5 times for the March and September tests respectively.

First Group's share price rose 7% to 48.38p.

Private equity investment trust HgCapital reported third-quarter growth in net asset value (NAV) of 12.3% to 299.5p, outperforming the FTSE All-Share by 15.2%.

The total return of the shares for the three-month period to 30 September 2020 was 20.6%, giving a year-to-date return of 11.8%.

HgCapital's share price rose 1.3% to 305.9p.

Specialist international distribution and services group Bunzl agreed to acquire SP Eqipamentos, a leading personal protection equipment distributor based in Sao Paulo, Brazil for around £22 million. Completion is expected to take place by the end of the month.

Bunzl's share price rose 2.5% to £26.16.

Ultra Electronics Holdings has reported its operating margins are slightly better than expected due to lower indirect costs related to the Covid-19 pandemic and robust core defence markets.

In a trading update on its performance over the nine months to 30 September 2020, the company said order intake remains strong with good revenue growth, as anticipated.

Ultra Electronics Holdings' share price dipped 0.5% to £20.46.

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