FTSE 100 tracks Asia gains on virus treatment hopes; AstraZeneca jumps
By Sagarika Jaisinghani
Aug 24 (Reuters) - The FTSE 100 jumped on Monday, tracking Asian markets as U.S. health regulators authorised a COVID-19 treatment over the weekend, while AstraZeneca rose on a report the U.S. government was considering fast-tracking its experimental vaccine.
The drugmaker AZN.L was the top boost to the FTSE 100, gaining 2.4% as the report said one option being explored would involve the U.S. health regulator awarding "emergency use authorisation" in October to the potential vaccine.
The export-laden FTSE 100 .FTSE was up 1.6% after ending Friday with its first weekly loss in three as fresh Brexit concerns compounded fears over the UK's post-pandemic economic recovery.
The mid-cap FTSE 250 .FTMC rose 0.8%, led by financial, industrial and consumer discretionary stocks.
"These are typical August markets where you don't have a lot that's driving them up except the absence of bad news," said Michael Hewson, a market analyst at CMC Markets UK.
"Certainly from an economic bounce-back point of view, there are still overriding concerns about the resilience of the European recovery and, overall, there's no evidence whatsoever that virus cases are slowing down."
The blue-chip FTSE 100 has bounced from its March lows but lagged the U.S. benchmark S&P 500 .SPX, which is scaling record highs on historic fiscal and monetary stimulus and hopes that the worst of the pandemic's economic damage was over.
On Sunday, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration said it authorised the use of blood plasma from patients who had recovered from COVID-19 as a treatment for the disease.
In a relatively light week for economic data, focus will turn to U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell's address at the Kansas City Fed's annual conference on Thursday for any hints to the central bank's efforts to revamp its approach to monetary policy.
Bunzl Plc BNZL.L jumped 3.9% after resuming dividends. Only five stocks on the FTSE 100 were lower in morning trading.
(Reporting by Sagarika Jaisinghani in Bengaluru; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)
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