Asian stocks gain, dollar slips as Omicron COVID-19 fears fade

HONG KONG, Dec.23 (Reuters) – A global equity rally continued in Asian trading on Thursday and the safe-haven dollar slipped as markets welcomed signs that the Omicron variant of COVID-19 could be less severe than expected, as well as the economic strength of the United States. The data.

Japan’s Nikkei (.N225) gained 0.57%, and the largest MSCI Asia-Pacific stock index outside of Japan (.MIAPJ0000PUS) rose 0.55%, a third successive session of gains then that he was recovering from a shake on Monday when concerns about the new strain of coronavirus gripped the markets and pushed investors towards safe havens like the greenback.

European markets were also heading for a positive opening, with pan-regional Euro Stoxx 50 futures up 0.45% and FTSE futures up 0.45%.

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“The unpredictable trajectory of the pandemic and its impacts on growth and inflation continue to dominate investor risk appetite,” said David Chao, Asia-Pacific global markets strategist at Invesco.

“Recent health data from the UK and other places around the world indicate that the worst-case scenario is unlikely: even though transmission rates (Omicron) would be higher, this variant appears less virulent and less likely to cause serious illness or death. “

The risk of having to stay in hospital for patients with the Omicron variant of COVID-19 is 40-45% lower than for patients with the Delta variant, according to an Imperial College London study released on Wednesday . Read more

Meanwhile, major U.S. benchmarks ended higher overnight after data showed U.S. consumer confidence improved further in December, and the White House said it was resuming talks. on a massive social spending and climate change bill with recalcitrant Senator Joe Manchin. Read more

However, as markets on both sides of the Pacific rose this week, gains in MSCI’s broad Asian benchmark started from Monday’s year-low, while US benchmarks are in view of the record highs of last month.

Strong economic growth in the United States and nervousness triggered by sweeping regulatory changes in China earlier this year – which rocked stocks in industries ranging from tech to real estate – pushed investment away from it. Asia.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index (.HSI) has been hit hard, falling 15% in 2021, on track for its worst year since 2011.

On Thursday, the benchmark rose 0.2%, although shares in the index (9618.HK) fell 11% after the e-commerce firm’s largest shareholder, Tencent ( 0700.HK), said he would donate most of his $ 16.4 billion. participation to its own shareholders in the form of a dividend. L4N2T802E

“It’s obvious that the Hong Kong stock market is one of the worst performing markets in the world, but I see some momentum now,” said Dickie Wong, executive director of research at local brokerage Kingston Securities. .

Wong pointed to the momentum given by the rebound in US markets and the fact that some investors were starting to view the low prices of certain internet and tech stocks as a buying opportunity.

In forex markets, in keeping with the “risky” mood, the dollar index fell to 96.018, its lowest since December 17th.

Recent losses have been fairly widespread; the euro has gained in the past four sessions and the Australian dollar – often seen as an indicator of risk appetite – is up 1.2% on the week.

The benchmark 10-year Treasury yield was last at 1.4583%, comfortably in the middle of its recent range.

Oil prices also rose, again in line with optimism about the state of the global economy, also helped by a larger than expected drop in US stocks on Wednesday.

Brent crude futures rose 0.3% to $ 75.53 a barrel. US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures rose 0.27% to $ 72.96.

Spot gold rose 0.22% to 1,807 an ounce, helped by the weaker dollar.

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Reporting by Alun John; Editing by Stephen Coates and Kenneth Maxwell

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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