European stocks fall as Omicron variant ‘blurs outlook’

European and Asian stocks fell on Monday on growing concerns over the global economy, as the rapid spread of the Omicron coronavirus variant prompted governments across the continent to re-impose restrictions. regime.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 Index fell 1.7% in early trades. London’s FTSE 100 fell 1.7% while France’s Cac 40 fell 1.8%. In Asia, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng traded 1.9% lower and Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 fell 2.1%.

The Netherlands on Sunday became the first EU country to reopen its nationwide lockdown, closing bars, restaurants and most non-essential shops until at least mid-January.

The German government tightened travel restrictions over the weekend, while the UK’s Health Secretary did not rule out having to travel in the UK before Christmas, telling the BBC it was time “to be more cautious”. “. Ireland, meanwhile, began an 8pm curfew for pubs and restaurants.

Jim Reid, strategist at Deutsche Bank, described Omicron as “one of the biggest problems facing the market right now” as it has “clouded the outlook for the year-end transition”.

Oil prices reflect those worries. Brent, the international benchmark, fell 2.9% to $71.40 a barrel, while the US benchmark West Texas Intermediate fell 3.7% to $68.25.

Across the Atlantic, the US growth outlook was dealt a blow after Democratic senator Joe Manchin said he would not vote on President Joe Biden’s flagship Build Back Better bill, which has which means the law is unlikely to be passed in its current form.

As a result, Goldman Sachs lowered its forecast for US gross domestic product growth for 2022 from 3% to 2% in the first quarter, from 3.5% to 3% in the second quarter, and from 3% to 2 ,75% in Tuesday.

U.S. stock index futures were under pressure in early Chicago trade, with the broad S&P 500-tracking indexes down 1.3%. The Wall Street stock index fell about 1% on Friday.

Monday’s slide came just days before Christmas, a time when many trading desks have lighter staff than usual. That can lead to thinner trading conditions, exacerbating volatility. European stocks fall as Omicron variant ‘blurs outlook’

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