In Asian Equity Markets Japanese stocks closed higher amid choppy trade on Wednesday, marking a rebound from three straight sessions of sharp losses, although uncertainties over the impact of the Omicron coronavirus variant capped gains. The Nikkei index ended 0.41 percent higher at 27,935.62, after gaining as much as 1 percent. The broader Topix also reversed early losses to gain 0.44 percent at 1,936.74. MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose 1.3 percent. Hong Kong rose 1.2 percent and Korea 2.2 percent to lead Wednesday’s gains.
In Currency Markets the safe-haven yen held steady on Wednesday, while the risk-sensitive Australian dollar languished near a one-year low after Fed Chair Jerome Powell signalled a faster taper of stimulus despite the risks around the Omicron COVID-19 variant. The greenback ticked 0.09 percent higher to 113.26 yen, but still within sight of an overnight low of 112.535, a level not seen since Oct. 11. The single currency dell 0.04 percent to $1.1331, down from a two-week high of $1.1387 overnight. Sterling traded not far from an 11-month low of $1.31945 reached overnight, last changing hands at $1.32955.
In US Equity Markets stocks fell on Tuesday after Fed Chair Jerome Powell signaled that the U.S. central bank would consider speeding up its withdrawal of bond purchases as inflation risks increase, piling pressure onto a market already nervous about the latest COVID-19 variant. The Dow fell 1.86 percent, to 34,483.72, the S&P 500 lost 1.90 percent, to 4,567 and the Nasdaq Composite fell 1.55 percent, to 15,537.69. Moderna shares fell 4.4 percent while Regeneron Pharmaceuticals In) lost 2.7 percent after it said its COVID-19 antibody treatment and other similar drugs could be less effective against Omicron.
In Commodities Markets gold climbed higher on Tuesday as investors sought safe havens again after Moderna’s CEO warned COVID-19 vaccines were likely to be less effective against the Omicron variant, putting bullion on course for a second straight monthly gain. Spot gold rose 0.4 percent to $1,792.23 per ounce. Elsewhere, spot silver fell 0.2 percent to $22.85 per ounce, platinum was down 1.4 percent to $949.99, and palladium shed 2 percent to $1,758.96. Brent crude futures fell 3.9 percent, to settle at $70.57 a barrel. U.S. WTI crude futures ended 5.4 percent, lower at $66.18 a barrel.
In European Equity Markets stocks fell on Tuesday after U.S. Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell warned U.S. inflation may not be transitory and as worries about the efficacy of existing vaccines against the Omicron COVID-19 variant weighed on investors. The pan-European STOXX 600 closed down 0.9 percent, after having fallen up to 1.6 percent during the session to seven weeks lows. The travel and leisure sector led losses in Europe, down 2.8 percent, taking monthly losses to 20.6 percent – the worst month since March 2020.
In Bond Markets U.S. Treasury yields fell to multi-week lows on Tuesday after the head of drugmaker Moderna raised concerns about the efficacy of vaccines against the Omicron coronavirus variant, sparking demand for safe haven assets. The benchmark 10-year note yield was last down 10 basis points at 1.429 percent as the market returned to a rally mode that was triggered late last week with news of the Omicron variant’s emergence. The two-year yield was last down 4.9 basis points at 0.4607 percent and the five-year yield was 9 basis points lower at 1.0954 percent. The 30-year bond yield was last down 7.3 basis points at 1.8072 percent.