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Market Report: Sunak extends furlough scheme and Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine moves closer to US approval

FTSE 100 bounced higher as traders waited for news of a potential Brexit outcome. London’s leading index rose 37 points to 6,588 in early trading, though the UK-focused FTSE 250 struggled. Chancellor Rishi Sunak has extended the furlough scheme by a month until the end of April.

The decision came after lockdown rules were tightened across England, with an expected further hit to the economy.

Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine is moving closer to emergency approval in the US after it was endorsed by experts on Thursday. The FDA said it will move quickly to give the green light. In retail, Frasers Group PLC (LON:FRAS) opted not to make an offer for Mulberry Group PLC (LON:MUL). Mike Ashley’s group entered an offer period last month after increasing its stake in the struggling luxury bag designer to over 30%.

Among the small caps, Synairgen PLC (LON:SNG) has tweaked the Phase III trial design of its SNG001 coronavirus (COVID-19) treatment to speed it up. The number of patients in the trial has been reduced and changes made to the primary endpoints, which are now 'time to hospital discharge' and 'time to recovery'.

Scancell Holdings PLC (LON:SCLP) has selected a candidate for its coronavirus vaccine, SN14, that it believes has several advantages over those already approved. These benefits include the destruction of cells infected with the virus in addition to stopping it from entering cells.

Quick facts: Frasers Group PLC

Price: 466.2 GBX

LSE:FRAS
Market: LSE
Market Cap: £2.42 billion
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