BEIJING (AP) — Global stocks were mixed in quiet trading on Friday, with many markets around the world closed or ending early in observance of Christmas.
Stocks slipped in Paris and Tokyo, inched higher in Seoul and Hong Kong and were nearly unchanged in London. Financial markets took the day off in the United States, Germany and many other countries as another powerful year for stocks nears its end.
A day earlier, Wall Street's benchmark S&P 500 index rose 0.6% to set a record as investor fears ebbed about how badly the omicron variant will hit the economy. Authorities have said the coronavirus variant might cause less severe illness, and President Joe Biden called for more vaccinations and testing but announced no plans for travel restrictions.
Omicron looks like a “short-term disruption” instead of a “destructive headwind that knocks the economy off its course,” Edward Moya of Oanda said in a report. “The U.S. economic recovery in 2022 still looks very strong.”
Of course, much is still uncertain about omicron, which seems to spread extremely quickly. Several major airlines canceled dozens of flights on Friday because many of their workers were calling in sick.
In Asia, Tokyo's Nikkei 225 slipped 0.1%, Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose 0.1% and Seoul's Kospi gained 0.5%. Stocks in Shanghai dipped 0.7%.
In Europe, France's CAC 40 slipped 0.3%, and London's FTSE 100 edged down by less than 0.1%.
The surge in omicron cases has weighed on investors as they have tried to gauge the impact on 2022 corporate profits. Governments in Asia and Europe have tightened travel controls or pushed back plans to relax curbs already in place.
Inflation, meanwhile, is running at a nearly four-decade high in the United States. That has prompted the Federal Reserve to accelerate the withdrawal of economic stimulus that has been boosting stock prices.
In energy markets, the price of Brent crude oil rose 71 cents to settle at $76.14.
Joe Mcdonald, The Associated Press