Stocks Fall on Omicron Fears

Stocks and other risk assets fall strongly as the week’s trading begins, as markets are troubled by the rapid spread of omicron and the seeming death of Biden’s infrastructure bill in the Senate.

  • The omicron coronavirus variant is continuing to spread rapidly, most notably in the UK and other European nations, while it is beginning also to spread in the USA. Morbidity from the new variant remains unclear but it seems to transmit extremely easily. The caseload looks set to be huge, with the UK now recording almost 100,000 new cases daily. The spread is also very strong in the Netherlands (which has just implemented a full lockdown), Denmark, and Norway. Markets are spooked by the potential ability of omicron to force more lockdowns and economic disruption. Stock markets everywhere and risk assets such as commodity currencies all fell during today’s Asian session, and markets are firmly in risk-off mode.


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  • Senator Manchin announced that he cannot vote for Biden’s infrastructure bill which effectively dooms it in its present form from passing in the Senate. This has helped rattle markets in the US which were counting on some economic stimulus from the bill as its scope was so big.
  • In the Forex market, the Japanese yen is the strongest currency, along with other safe havens such as the US dollar, the Swiss franc, and precious metals, while the Australian dollar is the weakest major currency, along with the other commodity currencies. Crude Oil is also notably weak.
  • The Turkish lira is continuing to fall to new record lows after President Erdogan again calls for further Turkish rate cuts in the name of Islam. The USD/TRY currency pair is now trading well above 17 lira to the dollar, a record high. Although the Turkish lira looks very tempting for trend traders to short, the overnight swap rates and spreads imposed by brokers are so high that it is hard to do this profitably.
  • Last week saw the a weekly rise in new confirmed coronavirus cases globally, with the highest number being recorded in one week since last August.
  • It is estimated that 56.8% of the world’s population has received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccination.
  • Total confirmed new coronavirus cases worldwide stand at over 275 million with an average case fatality rate of 1.95%.
  • The rate of new coronavirus infections appears to now be increasing most quickly in Australia, Bolivia, Canada, Denmark, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Iceland, Italy, Kenya, South Korea, Malta, Monaco, Nigeria, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Vietnam, the USA, and the UK.
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