Global stocks and Wall Street futures are mixed as traders consider the possible impact of the coronavirus’s omicron variant
London and Frankfurt opened lower and Shanghai and Tokyo fell. Hong Kong advanced.
It is unclear whether omicron is more dangerous than other variants. But governments have responded by tightening travel controls. That is fueling unease about the outlook for a global economic recovery.
On Wall Street, the future for the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 0.6% and that for the S&P 500 index gained 0.5%. The sank 1.2% on Wednesday despite surveys showing hiring and factory activity in November were better than expected. Markets already were sliding when the White House announced the discovery of the first omicron case in the United States.
On Wednesday, the Dow declined 1.3% and the Nasdaq slid 1.8%.
In early trading Thursday, the FTSE 100 in London lost 0.9% to 7,105.89 and the DAX in Frankfurt tumbled 1.4% to 15,263.35. The CAC in Paris shed 1.2% to 6,798.75.
In Asia, the Shanghai Composite Index lost less than 0.1% to 3,573.84 and the Nikkei 225 in Tokyo sank 0.6% to 27,753.37. The Hang Seng in Hong Kong advanced 0.6% to 23,788.93.
The Kospi in Seoul surged 1.6% to 2,945.27 while Sydney’s S&P-ASX 200 lost 0.2% to 7,225.20.
India’s Sensex rose 0.8% to 58,165.65. New Zealand and Singapore fell while Jakarta advanced.
The latest data “painted an optimistic picture for economic conditions, but that seems to be taking a backseat as the omicron variant can potentially shift the landscape,” Yeap Jun Rong of IG said in a report.
Investors already were rattled after Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell said the U.S. central bank might withdraw stimulus sooner than expected due to persistently high inflation.
The Fed’s bond purchases are injecting money into the financial system, boosting stock prices. The S&P500 has more than doubled since March 2020.
In energy markets, benchmark U.S. crude rose 87 cents to $66.44 in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell 61 cents on Wednesday to $65.57. Brent crude, the price standard for international oils, gained $1 to $69.87 per barrel in London. It lost 36 cents the previous session to $68.87.
The dollar gained to 113.21 yen from Wednesday’s 112.79 yen. The euro advanced to $1.1323 from $1.1319.