European markets uneasy as omicron Covid variant fears back

LONDON – European stocks are expected to open lower on Thursday as concerns persist over the omicron Covid variant.

The UK’s FTSE index is set to open 80 points lower at 7,086, Germany’s DAX 176 points lower at 15,295, France’s CAC 40 down 91 points at 6,797 and Italy’s FTSE MIB 326 points lower at 26,026, according to data from IG.

Major markets across the Asia-Pacific region and the United States had hit back on Wednesday despite fears of the new variant and that the Federal Reserve is considering a faster downsizing than planned.

But global equities appear to be struggling to regain momentum amid continuing uncertainty over the risks posed by the new omicron Covid variant, first discovered in South Africa last week and identified as a “concern variant”[ads1]; by the World Health Organization.

The WHO said on Wednesday that at least 23 countries from five of the six WHO regions have now reported cases of omicron, “and we expect that number to grow.” It also noted that hospital admissions are increasing across South Africa, but said it is still too early to know whether the omicron variant is driving an increase in severe Covid-19 cases.

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The Asia-Pacific markets were mixed on Thursday as US stock index futures rose higher during overnight trading after the CDC confirmed the first known case of the omicron variant in the US, causing stocks to fall. The first case of the highly mutated variety was discovered in Northern California.

Data releases include eurozone unemployment for October and same-month producer prices. There are no major earnings on Thursday.

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