Positive economic data from the USA cheer investors
Asian markets rose and expanded their rally on Friday as fears about the Omicron coronavirus variant subsided and further positive economic data from the US cheered investors.
Studies suggesting Omicron infections are less likely to lead to hospital admissions and US approval of Merck and Pfizer drugs to complement a growing arsenal of weapons against Covid have increased confidence that the pandemic will have less of an impact Economy will have.
“Omicron looks more like a short-term disruption to the economic outlook rather than a destructive headwind that could upset the economy,” said OANDA’s Edward Moya.
On Wall Street, the S&P 500 closed its last session before the holiday weekend on a new record after a string of mostly decent US economic data.
Commerce Department data showed that consumer spending rose, albeit more slowly, and new home sales rose in November.
Unemployment benefit claims remained stable from the previous week and orders for large-volume manufactured goods rose, mainly due to airplanes.
However, inflation has seen its sharpest spike in nearly four decades, exemplifying the delicate balancing act the Federal Reserve is having between containing inflationary pressures and sustaining the economic recovery on course.
Omicron “will lead to some slowdowns in the economy, perhaps some slowdowns in production, that could increase inflationary pressures in the short term,” Paul Christopher, director of global marketing strategy for the Wells Fargo Investment Institute, told Bloomberg Television, adding that the economy would work through the situation.
The optimistic sentiment carried over to Asia, where most markets rose, albeit in thinner trading with several stock exchange closings or shorter trading hours before the Christmas holidays.
Tokyo and Hong Kong each gained 0.1 percent, while Sydney, Seoul, Singapore and Bangkok also gained. Shanghai was one of the few losers with a minus of 0.8 percent.
Oil futures were mixed, with WTI heading towards $ 74 a barrel while Brent fell to $ 76.55.