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Stocks mostly rise on easing Omicron fears, oil gains

·3-min read
Investors will be keeping a close eye on the release of minutes from the Federal Reserve's December meeting, looking for clues about policy in 2022 (AFP/Daniel SLIM)

Stock markets mostly rose worldwide on Tuesday as investors bet on reduced economic fallout from the Omicron variant, and oil prices pushed higher as OPEC modestly raised output, as expected.

Equity markets continued to show strength amid signs that the severity of the fast-spreading strain of Covid-19 "may be less extreme than previous variants," Charles Schwab put it in an analysis.

London kicked off its 2022 trading with strong gains for the travel sector that helped push the FTSE 100 above 7,500 points for the first time since 2020, while the British pound reached a near two-year high versus the euro.

Paris and Frankfurt also advanced, while US indices were mixed.

The Dow powered to a second straight record behind gains in financial and industrial firms, but the Nasdaq tumbled amid worries over higher interest rates.

Tech firms -- which generally rely on debt to fuel growth -- tend to be punished more when interest rates rise.

"Wall Street knows the first quarter of the year will be all about ramping up Fed rate hike expectations as investors assess the impact of elevated energy prices, surging Treasury yields, and the never-ending focus of new Covid variants," Oanda's Edward Moya said in a commentary.

Elsewhere, OPEC and its allies, as expected, maintained their practice of modestly increasing oil output every month as the rapidly spreading Omicron variant has so far not heavily hit demand.

The OPEC+ grouping, including top producers Saudi Arabia and Russia, has resisted US pressure to open the taps further as rising energy prices are helping to fuel a surge in inflation across the world.

After a short videoconference meeting on Tuesday, the group said it had agreed to raise output by 400,000 barrels a day in February, the same increase as in previous months.

Among individual companies, Ford surged 11.7 percent after announcing plans to double production of its new F-150 Lightning electric pickup truck to 150,000 vehicles a year.

- Key figures around 2050 GMT -

New York - DOW: UP 0.6 percent at 36,799.65 (close)

New York - S&P 500: DOWN 0.1 percent at 4,793.54 (close)

New York - Nasdaq: DOWN 1.3 percent at 15,622.72 (close)

London - FTSE 100: UP 1.6 percent at 7,505.15 (close)

Frankfurt - DAX: UP 0.8 percent at 16,152.61 (close)

Paris - CAC 40: UP 1.4 percent at 7,317.41 (close)

EURO STOXX 50: UP 0.8 percent at 4,367.62 (close)

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: UP 1.8 percent at 29,301.79 (close)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng Index: UP 0.1 percent at 23,289.84 (close)

Shanghai - Composite: DOWN 0.2 percent at 3,632.33 (close)

Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.1289 from $1.1297 late Monday

Pound/dollar: UP at $1.3529 from $1.3480

Euro/pound: DOWN at 83.40 pence from 83.81

Dollar/yen: UP at 116.12 yen from 115.32 yen

Brent North Sea crude: UP 1.3 percent at $80.00 per barrel

West Texas Intermediate: UP 1.2 percent at $76.99 per barrel

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