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US indexes advance with investors continuing to evaluate the risks posed by the Omicron variant

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Major US indexes advanced midday after three consecutive sessions of declines with investors continuing to evaluate the risks posed by the Omicron variant of coronavirus.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 153 points, or 0.4%, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite was ahead 139 points, or 0.9%. Meanwhile, the S&P 500 rose 34 points, or 0.7% to 4,683.

“We remain caught within a period of uncertainty as markets attempt to gauge exactly how disruptive this Omicron wave is going to be for businesses,” said Joshua Mahony, Senior Market Analyst at IG, a global online trading platform. 

“The upgraded third quarter GDP reading out of the US helped highlight how the economy continued to strengthen over the course of September, putting the 2021 figure on track for the best rate of growth since 1984. Nonetheless, we are widely expecting to see economic activity drop-off in the coming weeks, with Christmas sales taking a hit as cases and hospitalisations rise.”

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9.50am: Wall Street makes muted start 

US stocks made a muted to flat start on Wednesday as traders continued to fret about the Omicron variant ahead of the holiday weekend.

In New York, the Dow Jones Industrial Average added around nine points at 35,502.

The S&P 500 was near flat at 4,648, while the Nasdaq Composite Index lost around 23 points to stand at 15,317.

“Trading volumes will continue to fall heading into the holiday weekend, but risk appetite will struggle to deliver a significant stock market rally as the Omicron variant still poses a major risk for many healthcare systems,” said Edward Moya, senior market analyst at Oanda, who noted the rush was now on to secure treatments.

“The Biden administration is expected to acquire 4 million courses of COVID-19 treatments by the end of January, while the UK secured 1.75 million courses of Merck’s COVID pill and 2.5 million courses of Pfizer’s COVID treatment,” he said.

“In the US, a return to lockdowns seen earlier in the pandemic are unlikely, but the US consumer will be weaker as many Americans won’t have the same benefits if their jobs have tentative closures,” he added.

In company news, Tesla shares accelerated over 4% higher after Elon Musk revealed he had reached his goal of selling 10% of his shares for tax reasons.

6.30am: US shares set to ease back

US stocks look set to ease back on Wednesday reversing some of the previous session’s gains which saw it snap a three-day losing streak as hopes for a Santa rally are balanced by fears over the Omicron coronavirus (COVID-19) variant.

Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average were 0.1% lower, those for the S&P 500 index ticked down 0.2%, and contracts for the Nasdaq-100 shed 0.3%.

Stocks have been see-sawing in the run-up to Christmas as investors seek to determine how severe the economic impact of the rapid spread of the Omicron variant will be.

Investors are also preparing for the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates in 2022 and squaring positions before the year-end.

On the data front, The Conference Board’s latest consumer confidence index, due at 10.00am ET,  is forecast to tick higher, after inflation and the pandemic knocked sentiment in November.

Real estate market data, due at the same time, are expected to show sales of existing homes rose for a third consecutive month in November.

Story by ProactiveInvestors


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