LONDON — European markets moved higher on Friday, looking for a positive end to a tumultuous week following the discovery of the new omicron Covid-19 variant.
The pan-European Stoxx 600 added 0.5% in early trade, with travel and leisure stocks bouncing 2% on easing omicron fears as almost all sectors and major bourses entered positive territory.
European stocks are looking to rebound from Thursday’s pullback, which saw the Stoxx 600 fall 1.1% and tech sector on the continent drop 3.8% to lead losses across the board.
Shares in Asia-Pacific were mostly higher on Friday, though Hong Kong was weighed down by tech stocks after ride-hailing giant Didi announced Friday that it will begin taking steps to delist from the New York Stock Exchange — less than six months after it made its debut stateside.
In the U.S., stock futures were muted in early premarket trade as investors await the November jobs report, which is expected to show solid jobs growth last month. A Dow Jones poll projected 581,000 jobs were added in November.
Fears over the potential impact of the omicron variant appeared to abate slightly on Friday after scientists in South Africa, where the variant was first discovered, said existing vaccines should still offer protection against severe cases of Covid-19. All three cases detected in the U.S. showed only mild symptoms.
Authorities across the world are scrambling to contain the new strain, which South Africa’s health body has said poses a threefold higher risk of reinfection than the globally dominant delta variant.
GlaxoSmithKline announced on Thursday that lab tests indicated that its antibody-based therapeutic drug will be effective against omicron.
Along with monitoring omicron developments, European investors will also be digesting final November PMI (purchasing managers’ index) readings from the euro zone and the U.K. on Friday morning, along with October’s euro zone retail sales.
Euro zone consumer price inflation in November hit a record high 4.9% annually in November, data showed this week, while producer prices surged 5.4% in October for a 21.9% year-on-year climb.
CPI inflation is expected to stay above the ECB’s 2% target in 2022, but two European Central Bank policymakers on Thursday maintained that inflation is “transitory,” despite U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell retiring that adjective earlier this week.
In terms of individual share price movement, Swedish online gambling company Evolution climbed more than 8% in early trade after a share buyback.
At the bottom of the Stoxx 600, Swedish Orphan Biovitrum shares plunged more than 22% after U.S. private equity firm Advent and Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund withdrew their $8 billion offer for the Swedish drugmaker.
By Elliot Smith, 3rd December 2021, CNBC.