UK stocks have kicked off the week on a positive note as hopes for a coronavirus vaccine lifted sentiment, overshadowing mounting concerns about a hard Brexit.
France’s Valneva, which employs 100 people at its Scottish facility in Livingston, has said it will supply the UK with up to 190 million doses of its vaccine candidate, VLA2001, over a five-year period.
If development is successfully completed, the firm will provide the UK Government with 60 million doses in the second half of 2021 at a cost of £433.6 million. The UK can then opt for more than 40 million doses in 2022, and a further 30 to 90 million doses in total between 2023 and 2025.
Meanwhile, news over the weekend that AstraZeneca has resumed clinical trials of its Covid-19 vaccine has sparked a wave of buying across global stocks.
Late-stage studies of the British drug maker’s experimental vaccine, regarded by many as the world’s leading candidate against the virus, were suspended last week after an unexplained illness in a participant. British clinical trials have resumed after getting clearance from UK safety watchdogs.
Aldi UK, the British arm of the German supermarket discounter, is trialling a click-and-collect grocery service for the first time.
The move comes after the UK’s fifth-largest supermarket group, with 894 stores, decided in April to start selling online food parcels to help self-isolating and vulnerable customers during the coronavirus crisis. The chain has also been ramping up a rapid delivery service in partnership with Deliveroo.
The company said it is currently running a click-and-collect service for Aldi staff from a store in central England, and plans to extend that to customers in the coming weeks. If that proves successful, the trial will be extended to further stores across the country in the near future.
Online grocery shopping has doubled its share of the UK market to 14 per cent since the start of the pandemic. Aldi customers will be offered timeslots to arrive at dedicated click-and-collect points in store car parks where they can pick up their shopping.
Europe and Britain’s car industries have called for the two sides to urgently clinch a free trade agreement, warning that a disorderly Brexit would cost the sector more than £100 billion in lost trade over the next five years.
With Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s plan to break international law by breaching parts of the Brexit divorce treaty facing a vote in parliament today, 23 auto industry associations have issued a joint statement in which they predict that a hard Brexit could eliminate production of three million vehicles over the next five years. Additional tariffs of up to 10% for cars and 22% for trucks and vans would “almost certainly” have to be passed on to consumers, leading to a slump in demand.
“These figures paint a bleak picture of the devastation that would follow a no-deal Brexit,” said Mike Hawes, chief executive of the UK’s Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).
These losses would come on top of an estimated £92bn in lost UK and EU production so far this year as car sales plunged during the pandemic. New passenger registrations in the EU fell by 38% in the first half of 2020, while those in the UK were down by 49%.
The statement signed by associations including the SMMT, the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association, the European Association of Automotive Suppliers and Germany’s Association of the Automotive Industry says the loss to EU plants would amount to more than £53bn, while losses to UK factories would reach nearly £49bn.