The London markets closed firmly higher after the UK became the first country in the world to approve a Covid-19 vaccine jab from Pfizer and BioNTech.
Traders were initially tentative about the announcement, but stocks lifted higher in afternoon trading amid hopes that the vaccine will start to be rolled out to vulnerable people next week.
The FTSE 100 closed 78.66 points higher at 6,463.39 at the end of trading on Wednesday.
David Madden, market analyst at CMC Markets UK, said: “The FTSE 100 is outperforming its Continental counterparts thanks to a rally in pharma, commodity and banking stocks.
“AstraZeneca and GlaxoSmithKline were higher on the back of the optimism in relation to the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine being granted authorisation in the UK.
“When it was announced that the British authorities authorised the coronavirus vaccine, from Pfizer-BioNTech, it helped UK travel, transport and hospitality stocks, but those industries were a little mixed at the close.”
Elsewhere in Europe, the other major markets were mixed and German traders remained particularly cautious about the pandemic recovery.
The German Dax was 0.52% lower while the French Cac moved 1.14% higher.
Across the Atlantic, the Dow Jones opened a touch lower after the index, and the S&P 500, drew back from almost-record highs from the end of Tuesday trading.
Meanwhile, sterling slipped as traders were unnerved by continued bickering regarding a potential deal with the EU as fishing continued to act as a stumbling block.
The pound declined by 0.54% versus the US dollar at 1.335 and was 0.69% down against the euro at 1.104.
Cinema stocks were among leisure businesses to receive a boost from the plans for a UK vaccine roll-out, with Cineworld shares jumping by 1.76p to 63.76p and rival Everyman saw shares rise 6p to 120p.
In company news, Tesco saw shares drop after it revealed plans to return its £585 million business holiday to the Government.
It closed 4.4p lower at 224.5p amid investor concerns that the move would diminish its profits for the year.
The move dampened shares across its supermarket rivals, with Sainsbury’s closing 6.2p lower at 209.9p amid fears it could follow the lead of its largest competitor.
Elsewhere, JD Wetherspoons dipped after founder Tim Martin sold £5 million worth of shares in his pub chain just days after warning new coronavirus restrictions will keep almost half of his sites shut.
Shares fell 23p to 1,152p after he offloaded 431,500 of the company’s shares at a price of 1,166p each.
Fishing supplies retailer Angling Direct saw shares jump by 7p to 70p after it said it will surpass annual earnings targets following strong sales in the face of the pandemic.
The price of oil made gains after it was reported that OPEC has made headway with respect to reaching an agreement on output for early 2021.
The price of a barrel of Brent crude oil increased by 1.9% to 48.39 US dollars.
The biggest risers on the FTSE 100 were London Stock Exchange Group, up 764p at 8,754p, BHP, up 99.2p at 1,856.2p, Rio Tinto, up 241.5p at 5,239p, and BP, up 12.1p at 267.15p.
The biggest fallers on the FTSE 100 were Sainsbury’s, down 6.2p at 209.9p, Berkeley, down 138p at 4,751p, Rightmove, down 17.4p at 628p, and Persimmon, down 76p at 2,763p.