BANGKOK – World markets were lower on Friday, tracking a decline on Wall Street led by declines in large technology stocks.
Shares fell in Paris, Frankfurt, Tokyo and Shanghai but rose in Hong Kong. US futures also slipped.
A resurgence of coronavirus outbreaks has increased uncertainties about a resurgence in tourism and other business activities in many parts of the world, including Asia.
The World Health Organization says a record 9.5 million COVID-19 cases were counted in the last week as the omicron variant of the coronavirus conquered the planet, a 71% increase over the previous 7-day period the the UN health authority with a “tsunami.”
The German DAX lost 0.7% to 15,942.67, while the CAC 40 in Paris lost 0.5% to 7,215.30. The UK’s FTSE 100 lost 0.1% to 7,443.90. The future for the Dow Industrial lost 10 points, while that for the S&P 500 lost 0.2%.
Germany’s heads of state and government should consider possible new restrictions and changes to quarantine rules, as the new Omicron variant is advancing rapidly.
Chancellor Olaf Scholz and the country’s 16 governors are likely to build on the restrictions introduced shortly after Christmas, which, among other things, limited private gatherings to 10 people.
Japan approved new restrictions on Friday to contain a surge in coronavirus cases in the three hardest-hit southwestern regions of Okinawa, Yamaguchi and Hiroshima.
In Asia, the numbers are lower, but infections are growing rapidly and bottlenecks in testing mean more cases are likely to go unreported. At the same time, the alarm has been kept in check by signs that the Omicron variant might cause less serious illness, especially in countries with high vaccination rates against COVID-19.
“The highly transmissible variant of Omicron is a short-term growth risk for poorly vaccinated emerging markets and supply chains amid China’s zero-COVID strategy,” Nomura’s Sonal Varma said in a report.
Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 index fell less than 0.1% to 28,478.56 and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng rose 1.8% to 23,493.48. South Korean Kospi rose 1.2% to 2,954.89 while the Shanghai Composite Index lost its early gains and fell 0.2% to close at 3,579.54. In Australia, the S & P / ASX 200 rose 1.3% to 7,453.30.
Taiwan stocks fell 1.1% and Indian Sensex was almost flat.
On Thursday, the S&P 500 slipped 0.1% to 4,696.05. The Dow lost 0.5% to 36,236.47. The Nasdaq Composite lost 0.1% to 15,080.86 while stocks of smaller companies outperformed the broader market, with the Russell 2000 Index rising 0.6% to 2,206.37.
The weakness of big tech companies like Apple was the main culprit.
The bonds continued to rise. The 10-year Treasury yield rose to 1.73%, its highest level since March. By late Wednesday it was 1.70%.
The sales followed a broad market collapse on Wednesday when the Federal Reserve said it was ready to hike rates to stave off inflation.
The Department of Labor reported that the number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits rose last week but remained at historically low levels, suggesting the labor market remains strong.
Much attention is being paid to the Labor Department’s monthly job report, due out on Friday. A strong job report could make the Federal Reserve’s efforts to fight inflation through rate hikes more urgent.
In other trading on Friday, US benchmark crude rose 54 cents to $ 80.00 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. On Thursday it rose 2.1%, which helped propel energy stocks higher.
Brent crude, the basis for pricing international oil, rose 54 cents to $ 82.53 a barrel.
The US dollar slipped from 115.85 yen to 115.90 Japanese yen on Thursday. The euro rose from $ 1.1298 to $ 1.1315.
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