‘I’ve never seen anything like it’: 2020 smashes records in global markets

From worst crash in a generation to record highs on news of a Covid vaccine, experts review the rollercoaster that was 2020

2020 has been the most remarkable year for the global financial markets. After the Covid-19 pandemic triggered the worst crash in a generation, unprecedented stimulus measures and vaccine breakthroughs have sent stocks roaring back to record highs.

In a year in which at least 1.7 million people died from coronavirus and unemployment soared in a global recession, world stock markets are ending 2020 up 13% – despite the latest surge in cases forcing further lockdowns this winter.

GUARDIAN: Stock markets in biggest fall since 2008 #TomorrowsPapersToday pic.twitter.com/1FX7ivVZZT

Related: As Airbnb’s shares go through the roof, we need to challenge the Big Tech monopoly | Will Hutton

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FTSE 100 recovers to highest level since June after vaccine unveiled

Promising clinical data from Pfizer and BioNTech help the index to a £28bn one-day gain

Optimism that a mass rollout of Covid-19 vaccines will lead to an economic recovery lifted stocks in London again on Tuesday, to their highest closing level in over four months.

London’s FTSE 100 index of blue-chip shares rallied by nearly 1.8% to finish at 6,296 points, the highest close since 23 June. This added £28bn to the index’s value, taking its gains so far this week to nearly £100bn after it surged 4.6% on Monday on news of a vaccine breakthrough.

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What on earth is the boss of AstraZeneca up to with his approach to Gilead? | Nils Pratley

Pascal Soriot heroically defended the company against Pfizer, but now he needs to calm his investors

It’s hard to keep AstraZeneca out of the headlines. A booming share price made the company the biggest in the FTSE 100 index last month, albeit Shell is now marginally in front again. More significantly, the group is in the vanguard of Covid-fighting efforts by helping Oxford University develop a vaccine and then, we hope, produce a successful product in massive volumes.

Now, though, comes something different: a Bloomberg report of an approach last month to Gilead of the US to create a new pharma giant. Nobody expects a deal to happen, it should be said. The proposal, if that’s what it was, seems to have been tentative and no talks are in progress now.

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