World stock markets rise as omicron fears ease | News | DW | 24.12.2021

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World stock markets rise as omicron fears ease

Pharmaceutical breakthroughs and studies on hospitalization rates are easing fears over the omicron variant. The Shanghai exchange has shown gains despite a lockdown in Xi'an.

A man walks past a bank's electronic board showing the Hong Kong share index at Hong Kong Stock Exchange Thursday, Dec. 23, 2021.

In a shortened Christmas week of trading in much of the world, markets in the US and Europe recorded gains on Thursday

World stock markets advanced Thursday, as fears over the omicron variant of the coronavirus subsided.

This was the last trading day of the week before Christmas for Wall Street and the Frankfurt stock exchange, whereas the London and Paris exchanges are open for half a day on Friday.

In the US, S&P 500 closed at a new record high after climbing 0.6%, its third straight day of gains. 

Germany's DAX also logged a third consecutive day of gains, closing 1.04% higher. France's CAC 40 was up 0.8% and London's FTSE 100 gained 0.4% by the close of trade. 

It caps a buoyant year on many western markets. Just in the case of the S&P 500, as of December 22, its value had risen 25% in total. This was also its third consecutive annual increase, despite the COVID pandemic taking a bite out of most economies and major companies during that time period. Along the way, the benchmark index set 67 all-time highs.

Why are COVID fears easing?

A number of studies on the omicron variant and pharmaceutical breakthroughs have contributed to COVID fears waning.

Two preliminary UK studies indicated that omicron infections were less likely to result in hospitalization compared to the delta variant of the coronavirus, seemingly supporting a trend first identified in South Africa.

Watch video 12:01

COVID-19 Special: COVID pills as game changers?

COVID fears were also reduced as a result of the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorizing Merck's COVID pill for high-risk adults. A day earlier, the FDA had authorized a similar drug by Pfizer.

The European Union's medicine regulator has authorized the Pfizer pill for emergency use.

sdi/msh (AFP, AP, Reuters)

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