Asian stock markets follow Wall St higher as omicron fears subside

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Tokyo, Hong Kong and Sydney have advanced. Shanghai declined.

Wall Street’s benchmark S&P 500 rose 0.6% on Thursday in the last U.S. trading session before Christmas.

Investor anxiety has increased as omicron spreads, but moderated after authorities said it could lead to less serious illness. President Joe Biden has called for more vaccinations and testing, but has not announced any plans for travel restrictions.

Omicron looks like a “short-term disruption” instead of a “destructive headwind that turns the economy off course,” Oanda’s Edward Moya said in a report. “The US economic recovery in 2022 still looks very strong.”

The Shanghai Composite Index lost 0.8% to 3,615.03 while the Nikkei 225 in Tokyo gained less than 0.1% to 28,821.35. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng rose 0.1% to 23,222.74.

The Kospi in Seoul rose 0.6% to 3,017.27 and the S & P-ASX 200 in Sydney rose 0.5% to 7,425.30.

The New Zealand and Southeast Asian markets also advanced. Singapore was closed for Christmas.

On Wall Street, the S&P hit 4,725.79, breaking its December 10 high. The index ended up 2.3% for the week.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 0.6% to 35,950.56 and the Nasdaq composite gained 0.8% to 15,653.37.

The surge in omicron cases weighed on Wall Street as investors tried to assess the impact on corporate earnings in 2022. Governments in Asia and Europe have tightened travel controls or pushed back. plans to ease restrictions already in place.

The Commerce Department reported on Thursday that U.S. consumer spending rose 5.7% in November year-on-year, its fastest pace in 39 years.

Inflation is also peaking in four decades, prompting the Federal Reserve to say it will speed up the pullback of the economic stimulus that has pushed up stock prices.

The Labor Department said the number of Americans claiming unemployment benefits was unchanged last week, reflecting a strong rebound in the labor market.

In energy markets, Brent crude fell 34 cents to $ 76.30 a barrel in London. American markets were closed for Christmas.

The dollar fell to 114.33 yen from 114.46 yen on Thursday. The euro fell to $ 1.1330 from $ 1.1334.

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