Global markets: Stocks roar higher as traders park Covid and Fed jitters

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LONDON: Stock markets roared higher on Wednesday, reversing much of the previous session’s losses, as investors used the dip in prices to begin December by betting the latest Covid-19 variant would not derail the economic recovery.
The EUROSTOXX rose 0.91% while Britain’s FTSE 100 rallied 1.24% and Germany’s DAX 1.39%. Wall Street futures pointed to a strong open with both the S&P 500 and Nasdaq 100 indicated up more than 1% .
MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe had gained 0.48% by 1120 GMT on Wednesday, having shed 1.5% the previous day, when investors took fright at a warning from drugmaker Moderna that existing vaccines are unlikely to be as effective against the Omicron variant.
Countries have responded by tightening restrictions and imposing travel curbs on parts of the world.
Global markets had also come under selling pressure on Tuesday after Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said asset purchases may need to be tapered faster to fight rising inflation.
In Asia, stocks rose 1.1% as traders reversed course after a sharp selloff the day before took the regional benchmark to a 12-month low.
“We expect market focus to gradually shift away from Omicron and toward positive growth and earnings trajectory, allowing equities to resume their upward course, and for some of the cyclical markets particularly negatively affected by recent developments, including Japan, the Eurozone, energy, and financials, to outperform,” said Mark Haefele, chief investment officer at UBS Global Wealth Management.
Oil also rebounded after steep falls in the previous session, ahead of a meeting by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).
U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures rose 3.88%, to $68.75 a barrel. Brent crude futures gained 4.54%, to $72.37 a barrel but remained way below levels of $82 a barrel seen last week.
Despite the bullish sentiment on Wednesday, some analysts said markets would be wise to concentrate on Fed Chair Powell’s latest comments.
He said on Tuesday that U.S. central bankers in December would discuss whether to end their bond purchases a few months earlier than had been anticipated.
“At present the market focus has been on Omicron and the potential that can disrupt the world, but the real focus should be on the Fed and the rate policy. That’s the biggest shock to come out of the last day or so,” said Kerry Craig, global market strategist at JPMorgan Asset Management.
Powell’s comments had pushed U.S. Treasury yields higher, especially at the short end of the curve.
The yield on two-year notes, which reflects short-term interest rate expectations, rose to as high as 0.622% on Wednesday, up from as low as 0.4410% on Tuesday, when traders speculated the new variant could lead to a more dovish Fed.
The 2-year yield was last trading at 0.603%, up 1 basis point.
Benchmark 10-year notes last yielded 1.494%, up from Tuesday’s two-and-a-half month low of 1.444%.
Rising yields in the United States caused the dollar to steady against most peers and gain ground on the Japanese currency. Versus the safe haven yen it rallied 0.2% to 113.38 yen thanks to the risk friendlier mood.
Euro/dollar traded flat at $1.133, leaving the single currency close to last week’s 17-month lows of $1.1186.
Improved sentiment helped the Australian dollar which rose 0.4% from Tuesday’s 13-month low.
Risk sensitive emerging market stocks and some currencies rebounded. The Turkish lira jumped as much as 5% from near record lows after the central bank said it had intervened due to “unhealthy” market prices.
Gold, despite all the excitement, saw little safe haven demand with the spot price at $1,786 an ounce, up 0.7%.

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