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So what now? On Friday, investors reacted suddenly to news of the Omicron variant, having largely shifted attention to other issues, particularly the inflation and interest rate outlook. Covid-19 was, in many minds, something that developed markets, at least, had under control. That has changed quickly.

SA was the epicentre of a global shock because the spread of the Omicron variant seems to be most entrenched here. While the JSE all share index was down 4.5% in dollars, the MSCI World wasn’t far behind, falling 2.5%. Markets price an uncertain future. It could turn out that the variant is clinically mild and well controlled by vaccines. On the other hand, it could presage a new wave of strict lockdowns...

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