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Global shares mixed as markets watch Omicron, central banks

TOKYO (AP) – Shares were higher yesterday in Europe after a mixed trading session in Asia, where the Shanghai benchmark jumped after re-opening from the Lunar New Year holidays.

France’s CAC 40 added 0.3 per cent in early trading to 6,968.99, while Germany’s DAX edged up 0.4 per cent to 15,153.17. Britain’s FTSE 100 gained 0.4 per cent to 7,546.10. The future for the Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 0.4 per cent to 34,848.0. The S&P 500 future was 0.3 per cent lower, at 4,477.25.

Investors also are watching for moves by central banks in India, Indonesia and Thailand, which are all set to decide on monetary policy within the week.

In Asian trading, Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 lost 0.7 per cent to finish at 27,248.87. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 slipped 0.1 per cent to 7,110.80. South Korea’s Kospi declined 0.2 per cent to 2,745.06. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was little changed, inching up less than 0.1 per cent to 24,579.55, while the Shanghai Composite added two per cent to 3,429.58.

This week brings earnings reports from some of the region’s biggest companies, including Japanese automakers. They may provide updates on shortages of computer chips and other disruptions and pressures related to the pandemic.

Surging COVID infections in the region because of the Omicron variant are also weighing on sentiment. Much of Japan is under a government-backed request for restaurants to close early to slow the explosive growth in cases and hospitalisation.

Although about 80 per cent of the Japanese have gotten two coronavirus shots, only about five per cent have received the booster. Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is expected to announce an initiative to ramp up inoculations, Japanese media reported.

A man walks past a bank’s electronic board showing the Hong Kong share index at Hong Kong Stock Exchange. PHOTO: AP

On Friday, The S&P 500 gained 0.5 per cent to 4,500.53. The Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped 0.1 per cent, to 35,089.74 after a last-minute burst of selling. The Nasdaq composite rose 1.6 per cent to 14,098.01. The three indexes posted a weekly gain for the second week in a row.

Smaller stocks in the Russell 2000 rose 0.6 per cent to 2,002.36.

The United States (US) Labor Department said employers added 467,000 jobs last month, triple economists’ forecasts. Some economists had expected a loss of jobs amid January’s surge in coronavirus infections because of the Omicron variant.

Treasury yields leaped following the jobs report’s release, tracking forecasts that the Fed will hike short-term interest rates more aggressively than earlier expected.

“With the release of most major tech earnings, the Fed’s policy outlook may once again take centre stage in the new trading week,” Jun Rong Yeap of IG said in a commentary.

Market watchers also will be eyeing fresh US inflation data and jobless claims, due on Thursday.

The 10-year Treasury was at 1.90 per cent yesterday, down from 1.92 per cent.

In energy trading, benchmark US crude fell USD1.10 to USD91.21 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It surged USD2.04 on Friday to USD92.31.

Brent crude, the international standard, slipped 69 cents to USD92.58 a barrel.

In currency trading, the US dollar fell to JPY115.17 from JPY115.28. The euro cost USD1.1446, down from USD1.1461.