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Global Shares Mostly Rise Wednesday    12/01 05:33

   Global shares were mostly higher Wednesday amid nervous trading due to 
worries over the newest coronavirus variant.

   TOKYO (AP) -- Global shares were mostly higher Wednesday amid nervous 
trading due to worries over the newest coronavirus variant.

   France's CAC 40 edged up 0.5% in early trading to 6,751.87, while Germany's 
DAX added 0.7% to 15,206.89. Britain's FTSE 100 jumped 1.1% to 7,137.60. U.S. 
shares were set to drift higher with Dow futures up 0.5% at 34,617.00. S&P 500 
futures rose 0.8% to 4,602.50.

   Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 rose 0.4% to finish at 27,935.62. South Korea's 
Kospi jumped 2.1% to 2,899.72. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 dipped 0.3% to 7,235.90. 
Hong Kong's Hang Seng gained 0.8% to 23,658.92, while the Shanghai Composite 
added 0.4% to 3,576.89.

   The detection of the omicron variant in Japan and other countries has raised 
fears that further measures to contain infections may squelch tourism and other 
economic activity. Experts say it may take weeks before they better understand 
whether the omicron variant causes serious illness.

   Japan banned all foreign visitors starting Tuesday as an emergency 
precaution against the new variant. The ban tentatively extends through the end 
of the year. The government is also requiring Japanese nationals arriving in 
the country to quarantine for up to 14 days.

   Tuesday's move had included some exceptions such as foreigners with 
permanent residency permits and their spouses and children and students on 
government scholarships.

   On Wednesday, the government said such exceptions will be eliminated for 
foreigners entering from South Africa and nine nearby nations. Other stricter 
border controls may kick in, according to publics broadcaster NHK TV.

   Anderson Alves, a trader at ActivTrades, said Asian markets were nervous 
after an overnight slide on Wall Street and comments from Moderna's CEO that 
existing COVID-19 vaccines may be less effective against omicron than earlier 

   "Traders will look for new insights regarding the new variant and its impact 
on the current vaccine framework," Alves said.

   Markets are also concerned about actions of the U.S. Federal Reserve after 
its head said it will consider shutting off its support for financial markets 
sooner than expected. Fed Chair Jerome Powell told Congress this week that the 
central bank may halt the billions of dollars of bond purchases it's making 
every month "perhaps a few months sooner."

   It had been on pace to wrap up the purchases, meant to goose the economy by 
lowering rates for mortgages and other long-term loans, in June. That would 
open the door for the Fed to raise short-term interest rates from their record 
low of nearly zero and dilute a major factor that has sent stocks to record 
heights, swatting away concerns about an overly pricey market.

   If omicron does ultimately do heavy damage to the global economy, it could 
put the Federal Reserve in a difficult spot. Usually, the central bank will 
lower interest rates, which encourages borrowers to spend more and investors to 
pay higher prices for stocks. But low rates can also encourage inflation, which 
is already high across the global economy.

   In energy trading, benchmark U.S. crude added $2.54 to $68.72 a barrel in 
electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It plunged $3.77 to 
$66.18 per barrel on Tuesday. Brent crude, the international standard, fell 
$2.46 to $71.69 a barrel.

   In currency trading, the U.S. dollar rose to 113.56 Japanese yen from 113.11 
yen. The euro cost $1.1311, down from $1.1337.

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