In quiet pre-holiday trade, European equities soared to a two-week high as investors assessed the risks of omicron lockout against the prospect of further growth. The Stoxx 600 index in Europe rose 1%, with travel and leisure stocks rising 1.7 percent to lead the gains amid optimism over Covid.
Airline stocks outperformed the market, with IAG, the parent company of British Airways, and Wizz Air, a Hungarian bargain airline, both increasing by approximately 2%. Investors responded positively to a study out of South Africa, where the omicron strain was first discovered, that suggested the omicron strain had a lower likelihood of hospitalization and serious disease than delta.
People diagnosed with omicron in South Africa during the two months leading up to November were less likely to be hospitalized than those who caught another variety over the same time period, according to the study, which is still being peer-reviewed.
Experts believe it’s still too early to say for sure how serious omicron is, but the study suggests that the strain’s human and economic costs will be lower than previously thought. Due to Omicron’s rapid proliferation, governments all around the world have reintroduced various Covid regulations in an attempt to limit it.
On Wednesday, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention approved Pfizer’s antiviral Covid tablet for people aged 12 and up who are at risk of serious disease.
Global stock markets have risen as a result of these rays of hope. The Dow and other key U.S. indices all gained on the other side of the Atlantic, as investors shrugged off earlier concerns about omicron. Despite concerns about omicron, investors digested data showing that consumer confidence in the United States increased in December.
Back in Europe, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi said on Wednesday that he would be prepared to run for president, adding that his administration had laid the groundwork for important work to proceed.
In afternoon trade, investors were encouraged by positive economic statistics from the United States, such as growing home sales and consumer confidence. Wednesday’s comments by US President Joe Biden, who said there’s still a chance he can reach an agreement with Senator Joe Manchin to get his economic plan through Congress, boosted sentiment.
Airbus SE gained among individual movers after a report that it is on pace to reach its 600-jet delivery goal for 2021. The stock of Delivery Hero SE soared after the company announced plans to abandon its food delivery business in Germany and sell its Japanese operations.