UK stock markets are likely to start on a flat note on Tuesday, 26 January, tracking the downbeat Asian cues with Japanese Nikkei 225 trading almost a per cent lower from the previous close. A mixed-bag action on Wall Street on Monday coupled with the renewed jittery around coronavirus cases in the United Kingdom is expected to steer the opening proceedings of London equities.
Hancock updates on virus-vaccine situation
The Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Matt Hancock on Monday said there had been an average increase of 37,258 coronavirus cases per day in the UK in the last week. The United Kingdom reported 592 more deaths on Monday. The National Health Service (NHS) is still operating under pressure with 37,899 coronavirus patients under hospital supervision, including 4,076 people on ventilators.
About 78.7 per cent of all the population over 80 years of age has been inoculated up till Sunday’s night, indicating almost 4 in 5 in the age group of 80 years and above, said Health Secretary. The new variants have undoubtedly made the fight against coronavirus a “whole lot tougher”, Hancock said, adding, the new virus is spreading 30 to 70 per cent more easily as compared to the existing virus, now comprising a significant number of the total cases.
The minister Said about half a million people were inoculated last Saturday taking the weekly vaccination number to 2.5 million people across the UK, a rate of over 250 people a minute. Hancock reiterated Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s target of vaccinating every person in the top 4 priority groups by the middle of February.
Supply remains a rate limiting factor in the ongoing Covid-19 vaccination programme as it is tight, as of now. More than 1 in 9 of the adult population have received a dose of Covid-19 vaccine as a total of 6.6 million people have been vaccinated so far in the UK, as on Monday, the Minister said.
GBP slips vs USD
The Great Britain pound (GBP) extended the losses after tumbling below 1.37 against the United States dollar (USD) on Tuesday. At around 0527 GMT, the GBP to USD pair was trading at 1.3651, down 0.16 per cent from the previous close of 1.3674.
During the day so far, the currency pair has shuttled between a narrow range of 1.3652 and 1.3681 at the interbank foreign exchange market. The Bank of England had fixed a reference exchange rate of 1.3670 USD and 1.1230 EUR against a unit of pound sterling on 22 January.
(Source: Refinitiv, Thomson Reuters)
The benchmark FTSE 100 last closed at 6,638.85, down 56.22 points, or 0.84 per cent, while the broader stock indices FTSE 250, FTSE 350 and FTSE All-Share settled with a loss of between 0.90 and 1.20 per cent on Monday. Meanwhile, the S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite finished with a gain of 0.36 per cent and 0.69 per cent, respectively, while Dow Industrials concluded 0.12 per cent lower at 30,960.