12:52 PM EDT, 09/13/2021 (MT Newswires) -- European stock markets opened the week with gains in the wake of the European Central Bank's announcement Thursday it will slow the pace of its asset purchases.
The Stoxx Europe 600 was up 0.3%, while the FTSE 100 Index in the UK and the German DAX rose 0.6%. The French CAC 40 gained 0.2% and the Swiss Market Index ticked up 0.1%.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to unveil the government's COVID-19 plans for the fall and winter months this week, including a final decision on the planned vaccination booster program. Health Minister Sajid Javid told BBC the UK will not proceed with plans for vaccine passports, although the government "should keep it in reserve as a potential option." He also does not expect any further lockdowns.
BioNTech (22UA.F) fell 8.2% in Frankfurt trading after The Lancet medical journal published 18 scientists' call to delay COVID-19 booster shots for the general population in favor of more vaccinations for those still without access to the vaccine.
The Bank of England aims to have a sizeable albeit slightly leaner balance sheet when it begins winding down its 895 billion-pound ($1.24 trillion) asset purchase program, according to a speech by executive director for markets Andrew Hauser. Hauser said the central bank expects to adopt a market-led approach allowing reserves to fall as quantitative easing assets roll off, but will be ready to replace any potential demand shortfall through shorter term open market operations, ensuring the reduction does not increase short-term rates.
Most banks, asset managers and insurers expect London to remain a leading global financial center despite regulatory uncertainty linked to Brexit, according to the sentiment survey of financial institutions released by Lloyds Bank. More than two-thirds of the financial companies participating in the latest annual survey see London retaining a top global role, despite deeming regulatory change as the biggest threat. Some expect the city's competitiveness to improve due to the divergence from European Union rules, while others see it worsening because of it.
On the corporate front, Valneva (VLA.PA) slumped nearly 42% after it said the UK government plans to end its COVID-19 vaccine supply agreement. According to Valneva, the UK allegea a breach of the contract for Valneva's VLA2001, a claim that the company "strenuously denies." The French biotech company said it will continue developing its inactivated vaccine, with phase 3 data expected in Q4 and approval in late 2021.
Zooplus ((ZO1.F) jumped 9% after private equity firm Hellman & Friedman raised its takeover bid for the online pet supplies seller to 3.29 billion euros ($3.88 billion), or 460 euros per share. The new offer, which came after private equity giant KKR (KKR) expressed interest in acquiring Zooplus, represents a premium of 5.9% to the German company's closing price on Sept. 10. The board of Zooplus welcomed the increased offer and plans to recommend it to shareholders.
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