By Barbara Kollmeyer
Investors in London were laser-focused on a tight U.S. presidential race on Wednesday, but some stocks were rising to the top, including banks and drug stocks.
The FTSE 100 index /zigman2/quotes/210598409/delayed UK:UKX -0.38% rose 0.9% to 5,835.35 in what has been a choppy day for global markets. The pound /zigman2/quotes/210561263/realtime/sampled GBPUSD -0.0146% slipped 0.2% to $1.3040.
A long night of election results whipped global markets around, but as of Wednesday afternoon London time, the race between President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden remains too close to call . And a Democratic sweep of the White House and Senate that some investors had hoped for was uncertain.
Drug stocks were a winning sector in London, with shares of heavyweight AstraZeneca /zigman2/quotes/200304487/composite AZN +0.89% /zigman2/quotes/203048482/delayed UK:AZN +0.61% up over 5%. Both presidential candidates have discussed tackling drug prices , but would need Congress’ approval to push forward with any bill.
Banks were headed the other direction, with HSBC Holdings /zigman2/quotes/208272822/composite HSBC -1.29% /zigman2/quotes/203901799/delayed UK:HSBA -0.59% dropping over 1%. Shares of Barclays /zigman2/quotes/206581728/composite BCS -1.26% fell 0.2%, though analysts at Jefferies suggested buying banks such as Barclays and BNP /zigman2/quotes/206351084/delayed FR:BNP -1.04% , as those businesses would do well from market volatility, which “has been the feature over the course of 2020 and that seems set to continue into next year.”
Among smaller companies, shares of Royal Mail /zigman2/quotes/204213037/delayed UK:RMG +0.34% surged over 10% after analysts at JPMorgan upgraded shares to overweight from neutral, saying they see a “potential strong improvement in trading over the next 18 months, due in part to an improved revenue outlook.”