- UK stocks opened higher on Monday after pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca released positive trial results for a Covid-19 vaccine, adding to recent encouraging results from rivals Pfizer and Moderna.

At 0820, the benchmark FTSE 100 index was up 26.25 points, or 0.4%, at 6,377.70.

Astrazeneca itself fell 1.2%, even after it released positive phase-three trial data that had been widely anticipated by the market.

The data showed its Covid-19 vaccine, being developed with Oxford University, was 90% effective when administered as a half dose followed by a full dose at least one month apart.

Efficacy fell to 62% when the vaccine as given as two full doses at least one month apart, making for an overall average efficacy of 70%.

Roadside assistance company AA reversed 5.5% to 31.7p on announcing that it had received a possible 35p per share takeover from investors including TowerBrook Capital Partners and Warburg Pincus International.

An initial approach by the potential suitors had been announced previously by AA.

Cinema group Cineworld jumped 16% to 53.61p after it secured a $450 million debt facility to firm up its finances and said it was eyeing an additional $300m in liquidity.

Insurance company Aviva gained 1.4% to 322.5p, having agreed to sell its 80% stake in the Italian life insurance joint venture Aviva Vita to partner UBI Banca for €400 million.

Telecom company Vodafone climbed 0.4% to 123.63p on announcing that it had committed to reducing its global carbon emissions to 'net zero' by 2040, a decade earlier than first planned.

Recruitment firm SThree rose 2.8% to 314.5p, having upgraded its annual profit expectations following an improved performance at its US and German businesses, driven by demand in the life sciences and technology sectors.

SThree's pre-tax profit for the year through November was now expected to be marginally above the top end of the range of market expectations, currently ranging form £23.2 million-to-£27.7 million.

Solar project investor NextEnergy Solar Fund firmed 1.4% to 106.64p as it posted a 12% rise in first-half profit and upped its dividend after it generated more energy than budgeted.

NextEnergy Solar Fund declared an interim dividend of 3.53p, up 2.6% year-on-year.

German business park investor Sirius Real Estate gained 3.0% to 86p, having upped its dividend after notching an improvement in its underlying profit amid a rise in revenue.

Sirius Real Estate declared an interim dividend of 1.82c per share, up 2.8% year-on-year.

Russia-focused gold miner Petropavlovsk shed 0.9% to 26.45p after it appointed of KPMG to investigate 'certain transactions' undertaken by the company in the three years to August 2020.

The forensic investigation was principally into related party transactions and had been approved by shareholders at a general meeting in August.

High-tech component supplier to the aerospace and energy markets Meggitt added 2.4% to 389.2p as it issued $300 million of private placement debt.

Greencoat UK Wind fell 0.2% to 132.14p on news that it had agreed to acquire a 49% stake in the Humber Gateway offshore wind farm from Germany's RWE, in partnership with pension funds managed by Greencoat Capital, for £648 million.

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