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European Stocks Higher; Payrolls, Omicron News in Focus

Stock MarketsDec 03, 2021 03:59AM ET
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By Peter Nurse - European stock markets traded higher Friday, seeking to end a volatile week on a positive note as investors wait for more news about the omicron Covid variant ahead of the release of important U.S. employment data.

At 4 AM ET (0900 GMT), the DAX in Germany traded 0.4% higher, the CAC 40 in France rose 0.2% and the U.K.’s FTSE 100 climbed 0.2%. 

Equity markets around the world have suffered wild swings for much of this week amid uncertainty over the economic impact of the recently discovered omicron Covid variant. 

The European Union's public health agency said on Thursday that omicron could account for more than half of all infections in Europe within months, while Germany, Europe's biggest economy, said it would only allow those with proof of vaccination or naturally-acquired immunity into shops and restaurants. It will also make vaccination mandatory for those in the health and care systems from March.

In South Africa, where the variant first emerged, latest data show that rates for new infections and hospitalizations are rising faster than in previous waves of the pandemic.

There has been some good news, as GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE:GSK) announced on Thursday that analysis indicated that its antibody-based therapeutic drug will be effective against omicron, while Roche (SIX:RO) said Friday it has developed new test kits to help researchers detect mutations in the new variant. 

Still, most investors will be focused on the release of the official U.S. monthly jobs report later Friday, looking for clues as to whether the Federal Reserve will increase the pace of its tapering in December.

Nonfarm payrolls are expected to have increased by 560,000 in November, at 8:30 AM ET (1230 GMT), with the unemployment rate expected to drop to 4.4%.  

French industrial production climbed 0.9% on the month in October, and improvement from the 1.5% drop the previous month, while German and French services PMIs remained in expansion territory.

In corporate news, most of the news came from Asia after Didi Global (NYSE:DIDI) announced it will delist from the New York stock exchange and pursue a listing in Hong Kong, just a few months after its $4.4 billion U.S. IPO, while Southeast Asian super-app Grab fell 21% on its debut after merging with a special purpose acquisition company.

Crude prices rose Friday after OPEC+ left the possibility open of a quick change in policy if fuel demand is badly hit by the travel restrictions and lockdowns put in place to combat the omicron Covid variant. 

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies, a group known as OPEC+, surprised the market by sticking with the plans to add 400,000 barrels per day of supply in January, but the top producers also said they could meet again before their next scheduled meeting on Jan. 4, if needed.

By 4 AM ET, U.S. crude futures traded 2.8% higher at $68.33 a barrel, while the Brent contract rose 2.7% to $71.47. Both contracts are on course for a losing week, for the sixth straight week.

Additionally, gold futures rose 0.4% to $1,769.00/oz, while EUR/USD traded 0.1% lower at 1.1292.


European Stocks Higher; Payrolls, Omicron News in Focus

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