Latest news updates: Travel stocks lead gains in Australia as fears ease over Omicron severity


Travel stocks lead gains in Australia as fears ease over Omicron severity

A board displays Qantas Airways flights at the company’s headquarters in Sydney
A board displays Qantas Airways flights at the company’s headquarters in Sydney © Bloomberg

Travel stocks led a rally in Australian equities on Tuesday after investors reacted to headlines that the new Omicron variant of coronavirus might be less severe than feared.

Shares in Qantas, Australia’s flag carrier, gained as much as 5 per cent, while travel groups Flight Centre and Corporate Travel Management both rose more than 6 per cent.

The increases, alongside strong gains for payments company Zip, helped pushed Australia’s benchmark S&P/ASX 200 up as much as 0.9 per cent.

Anthony Fauci, the top US health official, on Sunday called early signals about the severity of Omicron “encouraging”, telling CNN “we feel certain that there will be some degree and maybe a considerable degree of protection” with booster jabs.

Australia’s rally was followed by stocks in Japan, where the Topix gained as much as 0.8 per cent. In South Korea, the Kospi dipped, notching losses of up to 0.4 per cent.

Futures in mainland China edged higher and were up 1.7 per cent in Hong Kong, where markets closed 1.8 per cent lower on Monday.

What to watch in Asia today

Japan: The country announces its household spending figures for October, an important gauge of activity and confidence in the economy. It is forecast to be 2.8 per cent higher than in September, but still 3.9 per cent lower than October last year.

Australia: The Reserve Bank of Australia makes its monetary policy decision today, setting the country’s cash rate target. It will also deliver its assessment of the country’s current economic situation in its monetary policy statement. The target is forecast to remain unchanged, at 0.1 per cent, where it has been set since November 2020.

Markets: Wall Street equities rose on Monday, led higher by travel stocks, as fears that the Omicron coronavirus variant would lead to fresh lockdowns eased. The broad-based S&P 500 index rose 1.2 per cent on Monday, after closing down 0.8 per cent on Friday. The technology-focused Nasdaq Composite index closed 0.9 per cent higher on Monday. Australian stocks rose in early trading while futures in Hong Kong were up.

Travel stocks lead Wall Street higher as markets reassess Omicron risks

Wall Street equities rose on Monday, led higher by travel stocks, as concerns the Omicron coronavirus variant would lead to fresh lockdowns eased.

The broad-based S&P 500 index rose 1.2 per cent on Monday, after closing 0.8 per cent lower on Friday.

Travel-related stocks rallied with shares in Norwegian Cruise Line, United Airlines, Royal Caribbean Cruises and Carnival all rising by more than 8 per cent.

Dr Anthony Fauci, US president Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser, on Sunday called early signals about the severity of Omicron “encouraging”.

He told CNN that “we feel certain that there will be some degree and maybe a considerable degree of protection” with booster jabs. Market swings about Omicron are likely while scientists await conclusive data.

The technology-focused Nasdaq Composite index closed 0.9 per cent higher on Monday. The narrower gain continued a trend over the past fortnight, in which the Nasdaq has trailed the S&P 500.

The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note rose 0.09 percentage points to 1.43 per cent as the price of the debt fell.

Read more on the day’s market moves here.

Saudi Aramco to raise $15.5bn by selling stake in natural gas pipeline business

Saudi Aramco sign at the oil facility in Abqaiq, Saudi Arabia
The sale is Aramco’s second big pipeline deal this year © Reuters

Saudi Aramco announced a deal to raise $15.5bn by selling a minority stake in a newly formed gas pipeline venture to a consortium of investors.

The world’s largest oil producer said on Monday it would sell the stake to a group led by BlackRock and the investment management arm of the General Organization for Social Insurance, a Saudi government body.

The transaction marks Aramco’s second big pipeline deal this year as it tries to monetise assets to generate cash for the government, its main shareholder.

The announcement followed a call earlier in the day from the company’s chief executive, speaking at the World Petroleum Congress in Houston, for global leaders to continue investing in fossil fuels in the years ahead or run the risk of spiralling inflation and social unrest that would force them to jettison emissions targets.

Read more on Saudi Aramco’s warning here.

BuzzFeed shares endure volatile debut on the Nasdaq

BuzzFeed’s first hours of trading as a listed company proved volatile, with shares swinging into negative territory from an early gain of more than 50 per cent.

The media group went public on Monday through a merger with a blank cheque company, or Spac, from which most of the investors in that vehicle had pulled their money out before the listing.

BuzzFeed shares jumped as much as 53.5 per cent to an intraday high of $14.77 in the first hour of trading on Monday. By late morning, they hit $8, representing a 16.8 per cent drop from the Spac’s adjusted closing price on Friday of $9.62.

Shares were down 8.9 per cent in late-afternoon trading.

Spacs had been one of the hottest products on Wall Street earlier this year, but have more recently fallen out of favour with investors.



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