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European stocks rise on optimism over Omicron, China growth

written by Bella Palmer
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Concerns over soaring inflation and the US Federal Reserve’s stance on hiking interest rates to counter it did not temper investor confidence in European stocks

European stock markets jumped on Monday as China’s unexpectedly muted growth slowdown and optimism over the impact of the Omicron coronavirus variant boosted investor confidence.

Oil rose modestly on limited supply concerns, while the dollar was up against major rivals as Wall Street was closed for a US public holiday.

The fast-spreading Omicron strain had initially sparked fears for the global economic recovery, but studies indicating that it causes milder illness and government booster vaccine programmes have calmed traders’ nerves.

London, Paris and Frankfurt all ended the day higher.

The relatively lower mortality rates, coupled with ongoing vaccinations efforts, has raised hopes we will transition to endemic and that the economy will recover strongly, said market analyst Fawad Razaqzada of ThinkMarkets.

Britain’s benchmark FTSE 100 index jumped to new highs in 2022 after pharma giant GlaxoSmithKline rejected a bid worth £50 billion ($68 billion) from Pfizer for a consumer healthcare unit.

GlaxoSmithKline shares rose to the top of the index, while Pfizer‘s tumbled to the bottom as the US pharma behemoth said it would press on with a bid for GSK Consumer healthcare.

Concerns over soaring inflation and the US Federal Reserve’s stance on hiking interest rates to counter it did not temper investor confidence in European stocks.

The trend was due to a relatively more dovish central bank and the potential for a strong rebound in economic growth as nations ease travel restrictions amid ongoing booster vaccination efforts’, said Razaqzada.

As we head into 2022, we believe that the post-pandemic bull market remains broadly intact, added Bank of Singapore analyst Eli Lee.

Historically, bull markets do not end at the beginning of rate hike cycles, and positive trends in global economic growth and earnings continue to be positive fundamental drivers for the market, Lee said.

China on Monday defied expectations and posted growth figures of 8.1 percent in 2021, although this slowed in the final months amid fresh coronavirus outbreaks, disruptive regulatory crackdowns and property market crises.

Covid infections in the world’s second-largest economy jumped to their highest level since March 2020 as Beijing pursues its zero-Covid policy ahead of the Winter Olympics.

But mainland China shares were supported by news that the country’s central bank had cut interest rates for the first time since the height of the pandemic last year as officials look to kickstart stuttering growth.

Rising infections in China just three weeks before the Winter Olympics could lead to widespread economic uncertainty, particularly if the situation is not handled effectively in the short term, said XTB market analyst Walid Koudmani.

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