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MARKET REPORT: Stocks around world soar as latest breakthrough in US-China trade war and hopes a vaccine could be around corner for coronavirus boost optimism

Published:22:14 GMT, 6 February 2020Updated:22:14 GMT, 6 February 2020

Stocks around the world climbed as the latest breakthrough in the US-China trade war and hopes a vaccine could be around the corner for the coronavirus boosted optimism on trading floors.

Markets in the US and Europe touched record highs after Chinese authorities announced plans to halve tariffs on some 58 billion worth of US imports from February 14.

It will slash the rate for items including pork, fish and soybeans from 10 per cent to 5 per cent, and the tariffs levied on items such as car parts from 5 per cent to 2.5 per cent.

The tariffs were imposed last year during a brutal spat between the worlds two largest economies and are being relaxed after a phase one trade deal was agreed earlier this year.

It comes as hopes mount that a vaccine could be produced to stem the coronavirus outbreak, which has killed more than 560 and infected more than 28,000.

AJ Bell investment director Russ Mould said: While China continues to be stricken by the coronavirus, signs of de-escalation in its trade war with the US could be more relevant to the markets in the long term particularly if reports of a potential vaccine for the outbreak prove accurate.

Over on Wall Street, the S&P 500 and Dow Jones hit record highs at the open when they rose 0.3 per cent.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 index rose 0.3 per cent and hit an all-time high of 426.7 in early trading.

The reaction was more muted on Londons two leading indexes though the FTSE 100 (up 0.3 per cent, or 22.31 points, to 7504.79) and FTSE 250 (also up 0.25 per cent, or 52.86 points, to 21572.86) both closed higher. Insurer Beazley was the top performer on the FTSE 350, climbing 8.2 per cent, or 44p, to 579p after it said prices for the type of commercial insurance it specialises in rose 6 per cent last year.

That increase indicates the market is moving on from a difficult few years that have seen a surge in large claims, many of which were driven by natural disasters in the US and Asia.

It will also have helped that Beazleys annual profits rocketed 250 per cent higher to 207m.

Drax Group climbed 2.8 per cent, or 8p, to 298.8p after Norways oil fund, the Government Pension Global Fund, decided to lift its restriction on investing in the mid-cap power company.

Norges Bank, which manages the fund, said it was because Drax now bases less than 30 per cent of its operations on coal after a huge restructuring since 2016, when it was blacklisted.

Shares in homeware retailer Dunelm edged up 0.6 per cent, or 7p, to 1213p as it inked a year-long deal to sponsor the award-winning Channel 4 dating series First Dates. Blue-chip caterer Compass Group, meanwhile, was also in favour with traders after it said a cost-cutting drive and more contract wins in North America had offset slower business in Europe.

Compasss shares climbed 2.7 per cent, or 51.5p, to 1958p on the back of the update, which was released to coincide with its annual meeting.

Sweetener maker Tate & Lyle dipped 1.6 per cent, or 12.8p, to 788.4p, as investors were left nonplussed by a trading update where it kept full-year guidance the same and said its performance between October and December was consistent with the first half.

A more bullish update from On the Beach, released ahead of its AGM, was better received by the market as it said it was ready to fill the void left by Thomas Cook.

It has more than doubled its spending on so-called offline marketing such as adverts and billboards to lure in customers and it expects to see that pay off in the second part of the year.

Shares jumped 6.7 per cent, or 27p, to 432p last night.

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