European stock markets: Investors watch developments in omicron

LONDON – European markets traded mixed in a thin session on Christmas Eve, with traders carefully monitoring the latest developments around the Covid omicron variant.

London’s FTSE 100 rose 0.1% while France’s CAC and Netherlands’ AEX were flat. Markets in Germany, Italy and Switzerland were closed, and the European session ended early in several major countries.

Market players are addressing concerns about coronavirus restrictions and tighter central bank policy with signs that the omicron strain is mutated to be milder than previous variants. it’s like delta.

New studies in South Africa and the UK This week showed that omicrons reduce the risk of hospitalization and serious illness.

According to the South African study, which was not peer-reviewed, people with omicron infection had an 80% lower risk of hospitalization compared with other variants. However, the authors say this could be partly due to a more immune population, while South African health officials warn that the data should not be extrapolated to all countries. .

A separate study out of Scotland, which was also not peer-reviewed, found that omicrons were two-thirds less likely to be hospitalized than delta. The UK’s Health Security Agency supported the findings on Thursday, saying a person with omicron was 50-70 per cent less likely to be hospitalized.

Governments are searching for clues as to the severity of the new variant, which is ripping through many countries much faster than previous mutations. Authorities fear the health system could come under enormous pressure during the winter time amid what is now a fourth wave of infections.

More good news on the Covid front arrives on Thursday when US government has emergency approval of Merck’s antiviral drug for Covid, one day after allowing a similar drug developed by Pfizer.

However, traders are weighing the possibility of tighter liquidity in 2022, with the Federal Reserve targeting aggressive cuts to its massive stimulus program and three rate hikes.

The Bank of England is also taking a hawkish approach, becoming the first major central bank to raise interest rates since the pandemic began, while the European Central Bank is looking more cautious. .

In Asia, mixed market on friday. Several major markets in the area, including Hong Kong and Singapore, close early for Christmas Eve.

US markets are closed on Friday for the Christmas holiday.

Back in Europe, HSBC Bank said it bought the mutual fund arm of Indian firm L&T Finance Holdings for $425 million, in an attempt to capitalize on growth in the Indian asset management market. Shares of the UK lender rose slightly on the news.


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