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Stock markets rise after Christmas

US and eurozone stock markets rose shrugging off lingering fears over the fast-spreading Omicron coronavirus variant after the Christmas holiday.

Wall Street. — © AFP
Wall Street. — © AFP

US and eurozone stock markets rose on Monday, shrugging off lingering fears over the fast-spreading Omicron coronavirus variant after the Christmas holiday.

The highly mutated strain has fuelled a massive increase in cases across the globe, with countries reviving lockdowns, thousands of flights cancelled, and cruise ships returning to port with Covid-infected passengers.

There is, however, a “belief that Omicron is going to be a nuisance but not a dire strait for the global economy — at least not for long,” said analyst Patrick O’Hare.

Wall Street was up after the opening bell, with the S&P 500 surging 0.5 percent as it built on last week’s record close, which had followed a raft of mostly decent US economic data.

Eurozone markets rose in afternoon trading while Asian markets finished down. London and Hong Kong were closed for a holiday.

“Investors are continuing to shake off concerns regarding the Omicron variant following reports that the risk of hospitalisation is much lower compared to previous variants,” said a note by Schwab analysts.

A study released Sunday showed US consumers were in the mood to spend over the holiday season, with retail sales soaring 8.5 percent over last year.

Online sales were up 11 percent and in-store sales up 8.1 percent between November 1 and Christmas Eve, according to the Mastercard SpendingPulse study.

“Consumers splurged throughout the season,” said Steve Sadove, senior advisor for Mastercard and former CEO of Saks Incorporated.

– Key figures around 1445 GMT –

New York – Dow: UP 0.2 percent at 36,017.45 points

Frankfurt – DAX: UP 0.4 percent at 15,817.41

Paris – CAC 40: UP 0.5 at 7,124.50

London – FTSE 100: FLAT at 7,372.10 points (Friday close)

Tokyo – Nikkei 225: DOWN 0.4 percent at 28,676.46 (close)

Hong Kong – Hang Seng Index: UP 0.1 percent at 23,223.76 (Friday close)

Shanghai – Composite: DOWN 0.06 percent at 3,615.97 (close)

Euro/dollar: UP at $1.1331 from $1.1319

Pound/dollar: UP at $1.3427 from $1.3400

Euro/pound: DOWN at 84.41 pence from 84.47 pence

Dollar/yen: UP at 114.72 from 114.47 yen

West Texas Intermediate: DOWN 0.03 percent at $73.77 per barrel

Brent North Sea crude: UP 1.0 percent at $76.92 per barrel

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With 2,400 staff representing 100 different nationalities, AFP covers the world as a leading global news agency. AFP provides fast, comprehensive and verified coverage of the issues affecting our daily lives.

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