Opening Call: The Australian share market is to open higher.
Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 index closed 0.9% higher, shrugging off a negative lead from global stocks amid gains by commodity and health stocks. The benchmark opened higher and gained through a session that included the Reserve Bank of Australia reiterating that it doesn’t expect the Omicron coronavirus variant to derail Australia’s economic recovery. The health sector jumped 3.9% as CSL — the second-largest company on the ASX by market capitalization — added 4.9%, continuing its rally after dipping on a capital raise. Energy shares rebounded from their week-opening selloff.
U.S. stocks climbed, resuming the seesaw action that has become the markets’ signature since the emergence of the Omicron Covid-19 variant. The S&P 500 advanced 1.8%, the Nasdaq Composite rose 2.4% and the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained about 1.6%. All three indexes fell in the three previous trading sessions, pushed down by concerns over new Covid-19 lockdowns.
“The market is just rebounding after profit-taking in these last number of days because it’s been such a strong year,” said Linda Duessel, senior equity strategist at Federated Hermes. “We’re running out of time here but there is still a chance for that Santa Claus rally, which we’ve been cheering for.”
Gold futures finished lower, reversing an earlier gain, to book a second straight decline, as stocks that took a beating on Monday were staging a rebound, highlighting some return in risk appetite on Wall Street after an Omicron-sparked selloff. February gold traded 0.3% lower to settle at $1,788.70 an ounce, following a 0.6% decline for the precious metal in the session before.
Oil futures ended strongly higher, taking back a chunk of a two-day plunge stoked by worries over the spread of the Omicron variant and its potential toll on demand. West Texas Intermediate crude for February delivery rose 3.7% to close at $71.12 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. February Brent crude, the global benchmark, ended $2.46 higher, up 3.4%, at $73.98 a barrel on ICE Futures Europe.
Major currencies were mostly lower against the US dollar in European and US trade. The Euro fell from highs near US$1.1301 to lows near US$1.1260 and was near US$1.1280 at the US close. The Aussie dollar lifted from lows near US71.09 cents to highs near US71.55 cents and was near the highs at the US close. And the Japanese yen eased from 113.54 yen per US dollar to JPY114.21 and was near JPY114.10 at the US close.
European sharemarkets ended higher on Tuesday. The panEuropean STOXX 600 index added 1.4% with travel and leisure stocks up 3.5%. The German Dax and UK FTSE indexes also both lifted by 1.4%. UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson decided against imposing new virus restrictions before Christmas. In London trade, shares in Rio Tinto rose by 3% with BHP shares up 2.3%.
Japan’s Nikkei Stock Average climbed 2.1% as U.S. stock futures rose and the yen weakened. Equities in Asia including Japan were higher, thanks to a wave of short-covering sharply lifting U.S. stock futures, Oanda said. Top performers on the Nikkei included Lasertec, rising 4.9%, and Advantest, gaining 4.6%. Shionogi & Co. jumped 5.3% after saying Monday that its oral drug has high antiviral activity against Covid-19’s Omicron variant.
Chinese shares ended higher on broad-based gains, with property developers outperforming the wider market amid further signs of easing policy on the sector. The Shanghai Composite Index climbed 0.9%, the Shenzhen Composite Index rose 1.0%, and the ChiNext Price Index was 0.5% higher.