World stock markets are rallying as concerns about the potential severity of the Omicron variant ease.
In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average has jumped by 521 points, or 1.5%, in early trading back to 35,748 points. That’s close to its levels before Thanksgiving, just before the emergence of Omicron spooked markets.
The broader S&P 500 index has gained 1.7%, with technology stocks, travel companies and oil producers all higher.
Mining companies lead the FTSE 100 risers, benefitting from optimism about the global recovery. China’s moves to boost its slowing economy, and to pump 1.2 trillion yuan ($188 billion) into the economy by letting banks hold less capital, is also lifting stocks.
Commodities giant Anglo American has jumped 6.5%, with BHP Group gaining 5.6%. Conference organiser Informa, which would be disrupted by lockdowns and travel restrictions, has risen 4%.
UK prime minister, Boris Johnson, told ministers today the early indications are that the Omicron variant appears to be more transmissible than Delta. But, early hospital data from South Africa suggest it could result in less severe illness than previous waves.
Early data from the Steve Biko and Tshwane District Hospital Complex in South Africa’s capital Pretoria, which is at the centre of the outbreak, showed that on December 2 only nine of the 42 patients on the Covid-19 ward, all of whom were unvaccinated, were being treated for the virus and were in need of oxygen. The remainder of the patients had tested positive but were asymptomatic and being treated for other conditions.