An employee passes share price information displayed on an electronic ticker board inside the London Stock Exchange. File photo: BLOOMBERG via GETTY IMAGES/LUKE MACGREGOR
An employee passes share price information displayed on an electronic ticker board inside the London Stock Exchange. File photo: BLOOMBERG via GETTY IMAGES/LUKE MACGREGOR

London — Stock markets roared higher on Wednesday, reversing much of the previous session’s losses, as investors used the dip in prices to bet that the latest Covid-19 variant wouldn’t derail the economic recovery.

The Eurostoxx rose 1.1% in early trading while Britain’s FTSE 100 rallied 1.3% and Germany’s DAX 0.75%. Wall Street futures pointed to a strong start to trading.

MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe was up 0.42% by 9am GMT, having shed 1.5% the previous day when investors took fright at a warning from drugmaker Moderna that existing vaccines are unlikely to be as effective against the Omicron variant.

In Asia, stocks rose 1.1% as traders reversed course from the day before when a sharp sell-off took the regional benchmark to a 12-month low.

“We expect market focus to gradually shift away from Omicron and towards a positive growth and earnings trajectory, allowing equities to resume their upward course,” said Mark Haefele, chief investment officer at UBS Global Wealth Management. Some of the cyclical markets that had been especially hard hit by recent developments, including Japan, the eurozone, energy, and financials, are expected to outperform, Haefele added. 

Oil also rebounded after steep falls in the previous session, as Opec prepares to meet on December 2. US West Texas Intermediate futures rose 3.88%, to $68.75 a barrel and Brent futures gained 4.17%, to $72.12 a barrel.

Rising yields

Global markets had also come under selling pressure on Tuesday after Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said asset purchases may need to be tapered faster to fight rising inflation.

“The market focus has been on Omicron and the potential that [it] can disrupt the world, but the real focus should be on the Fed and the rate policy,” said Kerry Craig, global market strategist at JPMorgan Asset Management. “That’s the biggest shock to come out of the last day or so.” 

Powell’s comments had pushed US Treasury yields higher, especially on shorter-dated securities.

The yield on two-year notes, which reflects short-term interest rate expectations, rose to as high as 0.622% on Wednesday, up from as low as 0.4410% on Tuesday, when traders were speculating the new variant could lead to a more dovish Fed.

Benchmark 10-year notes also sold off, last yielding 1.5022%, up from Tuesday’s two-and-a-half month low of 1.4443%.

Rising yields caused the dollar to steady against most peers and gain ground on the Japanese currency. The greenback rallied 0.4% to 113.57 yen.

That sentiment also helped the Aussie dollar which rose 0.6% from Tuesday’s 32-month low.

Gold, despite all the excitement, saw little demand with the spot price at $1,779 an ounce, up 0.3%.

Reuters

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