European stock markets rise as traders shrug off Omicron concerns
Markets in Europe continued their positive rout on Tuesday, building on strong gains from the session before as fears surrounding the Omicron variant eased.
“Our base case is that the market focus will shift back toward the positive outlook for economic growth and earnings,” Mark Haefele, chief investment officer at UBS Global Wealth Management, said.
“So we think investors should consider whether now is a good opportunity to add some of the winners from global growth that have been most negatively affected in recent days — including the Eurozone, Japan, energy, and financials.”
Meanwhile, average UK property prices grew for the fifth consecutive month to another record high in November, climbing to hit £272,992 ($362,708).
Mortgage lender Halifax showed that quarterly house price growth is now at its strongest level in 15 years thanks to a shortage of properties, the “race for space”, and low mortgage rates.
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It came as Janet Yellen, US secretary of the Treasury, has warned that some labour shortages could take a couple of years to resolve, but there was no evidence of a wage-price spiral.
Speaking to Martin Wolf, chief economics commentator at the Financial Times, she said there was no clear information to support worries that both a tight labour market and soaring prices will create a spiral effect that could spike inflation.
“I don’t see any evidence that that is happening,” she said at the Global Boardroom event on Tuesday. “But it would be appropriate for the Fed to take actions to make sure that doesn’t happen.”
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Asian stocks edged higher on Tuesday amid easing concerns about the impact of the Omicron variant, while Chinese markets gained after its central bank eased monetary policy and exports and imports grew faster than expected last month.
MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan also advanced after declining on Monday to the lowest level in one year.
The benchmark has lost 6% so far this year, with Hong Kong markets figuring among the big losers, while Indian and Taiwanese stocks outperformed.
It came as China’s imports surged almost 32% year-on-year to $254bn, as firms looked to restock depleted commodities such as coal, which pushed to their highest level this year. Imports of metal and energy also both soared last month, while natural gas imports were the strongest since January, and crude purchases came in at a three-month high.
Exports growth slowed during November, but was also stronger than forecast, up 22% to almost $326bn.
Adam Cole of RBC Capital Markets said the strong import growth is “a positive sign on the strength of domestic demand”.