European shares hit February highs on Wednesday, joining a global stock market rally on optimism around progress in COVID-19 vaccines and U.S. stimulus package, while all eyes turned to make-or-break Brexit talks.
The pan-European STOXX 600 index and London’s FTSE 100 both climbed 0.3%.
UK Brexit supremo, Michael Gove, on Wednesday said Britain and the European Union should have a “smoother glide path” to a Brexit trade after they agreed on the implementation of the Northern Ireland protocol - a major point of contention between the two sides - a day before.
But others including EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, and UK PM Boris Johnson said a no-deal scenario was more likely with just three weeks left till Britain’s exit from the bloc. Johnson is to meet European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen on Wednesday in a last ditch attempt to seal a deal.
Globally, the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq hit record highs overnight, and Asia shares followed suit. [MKTS/GLOB]
After Britain on Tuesday became the first Western nation to start vaccinating its population with the Pfizer/BioNtech COVID-19 vaccine, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson made further progress with trials and regulatory approvals, receptively.
Reporting by Susan Mathew in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty