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Indian Morning Briefing: Asian Markets Mixed Amid Jitters Over Omicron Variant

DJIA             34022.04   -461.68    -1.34% 
Nasdaq           15254.05   -283.64    -1.83% 
S&P 500           4513.04    -53.96    -1.18% 
FTSE 100          7168.68    109.23     1.55% 
Nikkei Stock     27754.10   -181.52    -0.65% 
Hang Seng        23718.40     59.48     0.25% 
Kospi             2918.21     18.49     0.64% 
SGX Nifty*       17143.00    -102.0    -0.59% 
*Dec contract 
USD/JPY     113.04-05   +0.23% 
Range       113.10   112.66 
EUR/USD     1.1332-35   +0.11% 
Range       1.1341   1.1315 
CBOT Wheat Dec $7.784 per bushel 
Spot Gold $1,780.47/oz -0.1% 
Nymex Crude (NY) $65.32 -$0.86 

U.S. stocks fell in a choppy trading session, dragged down by news that the first known case of the Omicron variant was identified in the U.S.

Major U.S. indexes started the day on an upbeat note, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average surging nearly 521 points, as stocks attempted to rebound from their post-Thanksgiving selloff. But the rally lost steam in the afternoon after reports that new Covid-19 infections nearly doubled in South Africa and that the Covid-19 Omicron variant was identified in California.

U.S. indexes slid following the reports. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 1.3%. The benchmark S&P 500 declined 1.2%. The technology-heavy Nasdaq Composite fell 1.8%.

The emergence of the Omicron variant is injecting heightened uncertainty into financial markets at a time when investors were already trying to ascertain the impact of rising inflation on the market. Investors have little to go on as they assess whether the variant will lead to renewed restrictions in the U.S. and elsewhere and, if so, how governments and central banks would respond to support the economy.


Japan's Nikkei Stock Average was down 0.8% at 27713.26, dragged by falls in auto, railway and airline stocks, as the emergence of the Omicron variant has triggered travel restrictions and raises uncertainty over the economic outlook. Any developments over the Omicron variant of Covid-19 and their implications to economic policies were in focus.

South Korea's Kospi was 0.2% higher at 2905.33 in mixed early trade. Gains in electronics and auto stocks outweighed losses in travel and retail shares. The country's confirmation overnight of its first Omicron variant cases at home was weighing on investor sentiment. Inflation concerns were lingering, as the country's headline consumer price index accelerated to a decade high in November.

Hong Kong stocks were higher in morning trade, extending Wednesday's recovery. The benchmark Hang Seng Index was up 0.2% at 23700.18. Chinese property developers were leading the gains. KGI Securities reckoned the upturn may be supported in the near term, as the HSI's valuation looks attractive and could underpin buying interest. It also pointed out that the Hong Kong market has underperformed global equities so far in 2021, giving it some space for a rebound.

Chinese stocks were lower in early trade, in line with broad declines among other Asian equities amid Covid-19 concerns. The Shanghai Composite Index was 0.1% lower at 3571.92 and the Shenzhen Composite Index fell 0.2% to 2519.08. The ChiNext Price Index declined 0.3% to 3463.78. Bank stocks were lower amid worries over how the Covid-19 Omicron variant may affect the global economy. Dual-listed Chinese companies will likely be in focus, after U.S.-listed Chinese shares overnight came under pressure over reports that Beijing plans to ban companies from overseas listing through variable interest entities, IG said.


USD/JPY may fall below the recent support of a 112.50-112.60 band, as the spread of the Omicron variant leads to drops in stocks and falls in U.S. Treasury yields, IG said. Once that support is breached, the pair may test the next key level of 112.00, it said. USD/JPY has been trending lower amid concerns about the Omicron variant over the past few sessions and was at 112.91, compared with 112.78 as of Wednesday 5 p.m. Eastern Time. Investors were closely watching U.S. weekly jobless claims figures due later in the day to gauge the strength of the current U.S. labor market.


Gold prices were slightly lower in early Asian trade. The precious metal could trade sideways during the session, Oanda said. While the dollar has eased in recent days and the uncertainty surrounding the Omicron variant should give prices a boost, rising Treasury yields could put pressure on gold. Spot gold was down 0.1% to $1,780.47/oz.


Oil prices were higher in early Asian trade as market concerns about the Omicron variant seem to have eased, ANZ said. In focus was a meeting between OPEC+ members that will determine whether the group will halt planned production increases, the bank said. The current plan being discussed is whether OPEC+ should increase production to 400,000 barrels a day in January. The front-month WTI contract was 0.7% higher at $66.00/bbl, while the front-month Brent contract rose 0.6% to $69.30.

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(END) Dow Jones Newswires

December 01, 2021 22:15 ET (03:15 GMT)

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