Stocks sink as Omicron worries persist, investors move to havens

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Markets are also digesting comments by Jerome Powell, chairman of the United States Federal Reserve, who said the US central bank would consider ending bond purchases a few months earlier than expected.

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Global stock markets tumbled on Friday, while benchmark bond yields gave up earlier gains, as data showed United States job growth slowed significantly in November and markets remained volatile as investors weighed implications from the new Omicron coronavirus version. make assessments.

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After opening higher, key Wall Street indices turned sharply negative in morning trading. European markets also declined. The worldwide gauge of MSCI shares fell 0.52 per cent.

Omicron has gained a foothold in Asia, Africa, the Americas, the Middle East and Europe and has reached seven of the nine provinces in South Africa, where it was first identified. Several governments have tightened travel rules to keep the variant out.

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“The top issue is still this whole Omron version. There is a huge amount of uncertainty in the US,” said Randy Frederick, vice president of trading and derivatives for Charles Schwab in Austin, Texas. “Volatility means big moves in both directions and our Lots of close days and lots of down days which are both huge here in the past week… the market is a little bit treacherous.”

The US Labor Department said US non-farm payrolls grew by 210,000 jobs last month, lower than economists forecast of 550,000 jobs polled by Reuters, but the unemployment rate hit a 21-month low of 4.2. percentage, suggesting that the labor market was tightening rapidly. ,

“On the surface, the numbers were disappointing because they didn’t match expectations, but it wasn’t a weak report,” said Kevin Flanagan, head of fixed income strategy at WisdomTree.

On Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 121.78 points, or 0.35 percent, to 34,518.01, the S&P 500 fell 33.34 points, or 0.73 percent, to 4,543.76 and the Nasdaq Composite Index fell 244.47 points, or 1.59 percent, to 15,136.85.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index lost 0.43 percent.

The data caps a turbulent week as investors assess the implications of the Omicron version and what it means for growth, inflation and ultimately central bank policy.

Markets were also digesting comments from Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell earlier this week, who said in December US central bankers would discuss whether to reschedule their bond purchases a few months earlier.

US Treasury yields were mixed in choppy trade after initially falling on closely watched jobs data.

Oil prices climbed after producer group OPEC+ (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies) said it is looking to ramp up production in the short run if the coronavirus pandemic slows oil demand due to the increasing number of lockdowns. Review your policy.

US crude was recently up 3.11 per cent at $68.57 a barrel and Brent at $72.03, up 3.39 per cent on the day.

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