Global stock markets mixed as omicron fears ease


Global stock markets are mixed after Wall Street hit a new high as fears of the coronavirus’s omicron variant eased

London opened higher while Tokyo and Shanghai declined.

Wall Street’s benchmark S&P 500 index rose 0.6% on Thursday in the last U.S. trading session before Christmas.

Investor anxiety has mounted as omicron spread but moderated after authorities said it might cause less severe illness. President Joe Biden called for more vaccinations and testing but announced no plans for travel restrictions.

Omicron looks like a “short-term disruption” instead of a “destructive headwind that knocks the economy off its course,” Edward Moya of Oanda said in a report. “The U.S. economic recovery in 2022 still looks very strong.”

In early trading, the FTSE 100 in London gained less than 0.1% to 7,378.50 while the CAC 40 in Paris shed less than 0.1% to 7,102.24. German markets were closed.

On Wall Street, Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 0.6% and the Nasdaq composite added 0.8%.

In Asia, the Shanghai Composite Index lost 0.7% to 3,618.05 and the Nikkei 225 in Tokyo shed less than 0.1% to 28,782.59. The Hang Seng in Hong Kong advanced 0.1% to 23,223.76.

The Kospi in Seoul rose 0.5% to 3,012.43 and Sydney’s S&P-ASX 200 gained 0.4% to 7,420.30.

New Zealand and Jakarta advanced while Bangkok retreated. Singapore was closed for Christmas.

The surge in omicron cases has weighed investors as they tried to gauge the impact on 2022 corporate profits. Governments in Asia and Europe have tightened travel controls or pushed back plans to relax curbs already in place.

The Commerce Department reported Thursday that U.S. consumer spending rose 5.7% in November over a year earlier, its fastest pace in 39 years.

Inflation is running at a four-decade high, which prompted the Federal Reserve to indicate it will accelerate the withdrawal of economic stimulus that has been boosting stock prices.

In energy markets, Brent crude lost 76 cents to $75.88 per barrel in London. U.S. markets were closed for Christmas.

The dollar declined to 114.39 Japanese yen from Thursday’s 114.46 yen. The euro advanced to $1.1337 from $1.1334.


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