- By the close the FTSE 100 was up 1.7% to 6,421.29 as the latest Covid vaccine candidate from US firm Moderna was shown to have 95.4% effectiveness.

This latest positive development in the fight against coronavirus saw aircraft engine maker Rolls-Royce and British Airways owner IAG at the top of the leaderboard as the news was seen as benefiting the aviation sector.

The S&P 500 was up more than 1% to 3,622,70 by 4.30pm UK time with strong advances also seen in European markets.

Vodafone rose 6.9% to 127.8p, having swung to a first-half profit after the previous year's result was marred by losses at its Indian business, though its underlying earnings fell on lower roaming revenue.

Vodafone said it now had 'increased confidence' in its expectations for the full year, while forecasting adjusted earnings of between €14.4 billion and €14.6 billion.

IT infrastructure provider Softcat rallied 7.6% to £12.02 after it announced that it had grown its first-quarter revenue, gross profit and operating profit.

In a brief trading update, Softcat also said that its cash generation for the three months through October had remained in line with normal trends.

Fellow IT group Kainos firmed 3.7% to £12.34, having raised its interim dividend after doubling its first-half profit as the pandemic boosted digital transformation activity.

Kainos upped its interim payout by 83% to 6.4p a share.

Engineering outfit Smiths rose 4.8% to £15.75, even as its first-quarter revenue from continuing operations slipped 2%.

Smiths said the fall nevertheless underpinned confidence that it would meet market expectations for the full year.

Security company G4S gained 2.4% to 218.2p on announcing that it would target revenue from its cash solutions division in excess of $600 million by 2025 thanks to new business wins.

The update came as G4S seeks to fend off a 190p-a-share takeover offer from GardaWorld. In turn GardaWorld said: 'The attempt to position G4S as some kind of embryonic FinTech "disruptor" is delusional and, frankly, insulting to shareholders.'

Technical products and serves group Diploma fell 1.7% to £22.56 after reporting a fall in annual profit that was hurt by acquisition-related costs and slightly lower revenue.

For the current financial year, however, Diploma said it expected a return to 'underlying mid-single digit growth and historic margins, in line with market expectations'.

Rail and bus company Stagecoach advanced 2.6% to 60.1p, having secured an extension to the timeframe of convenant waivers on its bank debt.

Aviation services group Stobart gained 4.2% to 26.05p despite news that it may lose a key contract with Irish carrier Aer Lingus.

Aer Lingus had informed the company's Stobart Air division that it was not the preferred supplier for a new commercial agreement, which would have commenced in January 2023. Stobart is still attempting to exit the division.

Retail property investor Supermarket Income REIT added 0.5% to 105p after it acquired a Tesco Extra and an Aldi supermarket, both in Beaumont Leys, Leicester, from British Land for a combined £63.4 million.

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