LONDON – European stocks traded in cautiously positive territory on Thursday as investors continued to monitor developments around the omicron Covid variant and anticipated major US data.
Global markets have rallied in recent days as traders bet the economic impact of the omicron Covid variant will not be as severe as initially thought. Still, some experts called for caution, saying there were still unknowns about the variant.
U.S. stock index futures were little changed in overnight trading on Wednesday, after major averages posted a third straight day of gains. Asia-Pacific markets traded mixed on Thursday, with investors weighing the risks surrounding the omicron variant.
While preliminary evidence from South Africa, where the variant was first identified, may suggest that omicron is milder than the delta strain, the World Health Organization technical official on Covid-19 said on Wednesday it was “too early to conclude it”.
The WHO director-general said on Wednesday that omicron could change the course of the pandemic. The omicron variant has so far been found in 57 countries around the world.
Vaccine makers on Wednesday released the results of an initial laboratory study which showed that a third dose of the vaccine is effective in combating the omicron variant, while the first round of two-dose vaccinations significantly reduced its capacity. to protect against the new strain.
Investors will be keeping an eye on the latest weekly US jobless claims data to get a sense of the country’s economy; the data will be released Thursday at 8:30 a.m. ET. Economists expect the number of first-time filers to reach 211,000, according to Dow Jones estimates.
In terms of individual stock price movement, Swedish online games company Evolution gained 4.4% at the start of trading to lead the Stoxx 600, while Swiss online pharmacy Zur Rose Group fell 5.6 % after having carried out a sale of shares to increase the capital.
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– CNBC’s Annika Kim Constantino, Pippa Stevens, Spencer Kimball and Saheli Roy Choudhury contributed to this report.