Global stocks mixed after new virus variant spreads





BEIJING (AP) — European stocks and oil prices rebounded Monday while Asian markets fell further after the coronavirus’s omicron variant was found in more countries and governments imposed travel controls.

London and Frankfurt opened higher. Shanghai, Tokyo and Hong Kong declined, though losses were smaller than Friday’s fall after reports the variant first spotted in South Africa appeared to spread around the globe.

On Wall Street, the future for the benchmark S&P 500 index was up 0.7%. The future for the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 0.5%.

“Markets have rebounded this morning following reassuring noises over the weekend about the severity of the Omicron,” said Neil Shearing of Capital Economics in a report. “But we’re unlikely to have the full picture for several weeks.”

In early trading, the FTSE 100 in London rose 0.8% to 7,100.22. The DAX in Frankfurt gained 0.8% to 15,392.78 and the CAC 40 in Paris advanced 1% to 3,808.48.

On Friday, the S&P 500 fell 2.3% for its biggest daily loss since February. The Dow lost 2.5% while the Nasdaq Composite retreated 2.2%.

Investors sold banks, energy and airline stocks and shifted money into bonds and other safe haven assets.

In Asia, the Nikkei 225 fell 1.6% to 28,283.92 after Japan announced it will bar entry by foreigners starting Tuesday.

The Shanghai Composite Index lost less than 0.1% to 3,462.70 and the Hang Seng in Hong Kong sank 0.9% to 23,852.24.

The Kospi in Seoul declined 0.9% to 2,909.32 and Sydney’s S&P-ASX 200 retreated 0.5% to 7,239.80.

India’s Sensex gained 0.9% to 57,599.03. New Zealand, Singapore and Bangkok fell while Jakarta advanced.

The World Health Organization called omicron “highly transmissible,” but it was unclear whether it is more dangerous than earlier variants.

Governments imposed new travel controls, fueling investor fears about possible setbacks in containing the pandemic that has killed more than 5 million people since the first cases in late 2019.

The new variant was found in Hong Kong, Belgium and Tel Aviv. The European Union, the United States and Britain imposed curbs on travel from Africa. Israel banned entry by foreigners.

Also Monday, Japan’s government reported retail sales rose 1.1% in October over the previous month. Vehicle sales fell 6.7%.

The omicron variant might complicate planning by central banks that are deciding when and how to withdraw stimulus that is boosting stock prices.

Investors were rattled last week when notes from the Federal Reserve’s October meeting showed officials said they were ready to consider raising interest rates sooner than planned in response to higher inflation. The Fed previously said its first rate hike might not come until late 2022.

In energy markets, benchmark U.S. crude surged $3.50 to $71.65 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange, rebounding from Friday’s $10.24 plunge. Brent crude jumped $3.37 to $74.96 per barrel in London.

The dollar rose to 113.36 Japanese yen from Friday’s 113.19 yen. The euro rose to $1.1272 from $1.1319.