In Asian Equity Markets stocks edged higher on Friday and the safe-haven dollar was on the back foot, on signs the Omicron variant would not significantly derail global economic growth. MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose 0.2 percent, and Japan’s Nikkei inched 0.1 percent higher. Some markets, however, fell on tighter measures to contain the spread of Omicron. Chinese blue chips fell 0.32 percent a day after rising infections in the northwestern city of Xi’an resulted in a lockdown of its 13 million residents.
In Currency Markets the dollar was down on Friday morning in Asia, with investors towards riskier assets as fears of the omicron COVID-19 variant’s virulence continue to fade. The U.S. Dollar Index that tracks the greenback against a basket of other currencies inched down 0.02 percent to 96.035. Against the Japanese yen, the dollar was down 0.03 percent to 114.35, with Japan’s cabinet approving a record initial budget for the year starting in April 2022. The Aussie dollar edged down 0.13 percent to $0.7232 and the kiwi edged down 0.14 percent to $0.6815.
In US Equity Markets main indexes rose on Thursday after encouraging developments gave investors more ease about the economic impact of the Omicron coronavirus variant, lifting the mood ahead of Christmas break. The S&P 500 gained 0.62 percent, to end at 4,725.71 points, while the Nasdaq Composite gained 0.82 percent, to 15,649.43. The Dow rose 0.54 percent, to 35,948.62. Gains were broad with industrials and consumer discretionary among the top-performing sectors. Defensive sectors, which have mostly outperformed in December, generally lagged on Thursday.
In Commodities Markets gold prices hovered around the key $1,800-per-ounce level on Thursday ahead of the year-end holidays, even as the dollar steadied and appetite for riskier assets improved on easing fears over a fallout from the Omicron coronavirus variant. Spot gold was up 0.4 percent to $1,809.89 per ounce. Spot silver rose 0.5 percent to $22.89 per ounce and platinum was up 0.8 percent to $972.84 per ounce. Palladium gained 3.3 percent to $1,943.68 per ounce. Brent crude futures slid 0.5 percent, to $76.46 a barrel.
In European Equity Markets stocks hit a one-month high on Thursday, led by gains in banking stocks as signs the impact of the Omicron variant may be less severe than feared led to improved risk appetite that pushed eurozone and Treasury yields higher. The pan-European STOXX 600 gained 1 percent, marking the third straight session of gains, boosted by banks and travel stocks. Continental AG added 2.5 percent after its CEO told a magazine that the German automotive supplier could hit the upper end of its profit margin outlook in 2021 as vehicle production picked up in the fourth quarter.
In Bond Markets traders steepened the U.S. Treasury yield curve on Thursday as stock markets rose on optimism about the public health impact of the Omicron coronavirus variant. The benchmark 10-year yield was up 3.5 basis points at 1.4926 percent in afternoon trading, with Treasury markets set to close early ahead of the holiday weekend. The two-year U.S. Treasury yield, which typically moves in step with interest rate expectations, was up 2 basis points at 0.6874 percent.