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Stock futures rise while investors monitor new Covid variant


29 November 2021

On Monday, in early morning trading, stock futures climbed higher after Black Friday’s heavy sell-off while investors monitored the newest developments related to the new Covid mutations. Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average advanced 209 points equal to 0.7%. S&P 500 futures totaled 0.83% and Nasdaq 100 futures surged 1.08%. On Friday, a holiday-shortened session, stocks appeared in performance where the Dow ranked its worst day since the end of 2020. The Dow was down 906 points, equal to 2.6%. The S&P 500 fell 2.4%, and the Nasdaq Composite moved 2.3%. The three major indexes remained negative for the entire week.

On Friday, co-chief investment officer at Truist Advisory Services, Keith Lerner, said in a note that the current pandemic and new variants remain one of the most significant risks to markets. He also said they are likely to continue shooting volatility over the next couple of years. At this point, it’s difficult to say how permanent this latest variant will be and how it can impact markets.

Overview

On Friday, the WHO made a decision to label the omicron strain as a new variant of serious concern. While scientists and specialists continue to research the variant, omicron’s many mutations have already raised alarms in most countries. According to the World Health Organization, the first evidence suggests this strain carries an extended risk of getting the virus for the second time.

South Africa reported to the WHO about the variant for the first time.  After that, several countries reported the presence of the same variant. Those countries are the U.K., the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Italy, Israel, Australia, and Hong Kong. Surprisingly, this variant is not detected in the U.S. As a result, many countries decided to restrict travel from southern Africa and several neighboring countries.

Vaccine makers announced that they started to investigate omicron. At the moment, vaccine producers are trying to test how omicron responds to current vaccines. It is still not apparent whether new formulations are necessary. On Sunday, Moderna’s Chief Medical Officer Paul Burton said that the vaccine producer could roll out a reshaped vaccine against the new variant by the beginning of the following year. Besides Covid developments, investors are also expecting critical economic data released this week. On this Friday, the November jobs report will show solid jobs growth. Dow Jones surveyed that economists that expect additional 582,000 jobs in November.

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