StockMarketWire.com - A fall in sterling amid concern about the Covid situation in the UK, hopes for super-charged stimulus across the Atlantic and rising oil prices as OPEC announced output cuts helped lift the FTSE 100 3.5% to 6,841.86, its highest levels in more than 10 months.

Expectations for a Democrat 'trifecta' of control of the White House, Senate and House of Representatives is expected to lead to a more generous US stimulus package.

US stocks were mixed with big technology stocks under pressure on fears a freer hand for the Biden administration could leave the big tech names vulnerable to anti-trust measures and higher taxation. Overall though the S&P 500 was up 1.2% to 3,772.83.

Back in London banking and oil stocks dominated the list of gainers with HSBC up 9.9% to 415.9p.

High-street bakery chain Greggs estimated annual losses of up to £15 million and forecast that profit would not return to pre-COVID levels until 2022 at the earliest owing to the ongoing impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Over the fourth quarter, sales fell to £293 million from £344 million year-on-year and company-managed shop like-for-like sales averaged 81.1% of the 2019 level, the company said.

Its share price was up 8.1% to £19.24.

Information services and events company Informa said it expected annual performance to meet its guidance despite the pandemic-fueled disruption to its event-led businesses. The company also confirmed the appointment of John Rishton as chair, succeeding Derek Mapp, starting June 2021.

Informa's share price was up 6.3% to 558.6p per share.

Pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca said its diabetes drug Farxiga had been granted priority review in the US to treat chronic kidney disease in adults with and without type-2 diabetes.

'This decision brings us a step closer to delivering this new treatment option for the millions of patients living with chronic kidney disease in the US,' the company said.

AstraZeneca's share price was up 1% to £75.12.

Digital automotive marketplace Auto Trader said government-imposed lockdown restrictions across the UK were expected to impact volumes in January and February.

In the third quarter - October to December 2020- demand for car buying had remained strong, with visits to its marketplace 20% above prior year levels, but sales volumes were expected to be impacted in January and February, the company said.

Auto Trader's share price was up 1.5% to 609.8p.

Software services firm Gresham Technologies said it expected to report a rise in annual adjusted earnings thanks to recurring revenue growth that beat market expectations.

For the year ended 31 December 2020, adjusted EBITDA was expected to be least £4.4 million, an 7% increase on the prior year, while revenue fell 2% to £24.6 million.

Gresham Technologies' share price was up 1% to 149.5p.

Cruise company Carnival said P&O Cruises Australia had extended its rolling pause in operations in New Zealand to departures on and before 25 April, 2021, citing the ongoing impact of pandemic-led restrictions.

The company was initially scheduled to start sailing from Auckland from 6 February, 2021, while Pacific Explorer's operations that were previously paused to 4 March, 2021 and were now paused to 25 April, it added.

Carnival's share price was up 2.9% to £13.26 per share.


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