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Title: European shares hit two-week high as Omicron fears ebb







Dec 23, 2021 04:36AM ET


By: AnalysisWatch


European stocks hit a two-week high on Thursday as investor sentiment improved on signs that the impact of the Omicron coronavirus variant was not as severe as feared.

The pan-European STOXX 600 rose 0.4%, benefiting from stocks in the travel industry, which followed a global equity rally that was also supported by robust US economic data.


According to a study by London's Imperial College, patients with Omicron are 40–45% less likely to be hospitalized than those with the Delta variant.


Another study from South Africa found that people diagnosed with the Omicron variant between 1 October and 30 November were 80% less likely to be hospitalized than patients diagnosed with another variant during the same period.


Amid concerns about slowing growth and constraints from the new COVID-19 variant, markets have been looking for clues about the global economic outlook through 2022. Several European bourses are closed or have had trading shortened on Friday, while US markets are closed.


The STOXX 600 is set for three straight gains on light trading volume and could end the month up nearly 4%.


AstraZeneca added to the positive sentiment after the drugmaker said a three-dose administration of its COVID-19 vaccine against the Omicron variant was effective, citing data from a laboratory study at Oxford University.


Swiss building materials company Holcim rose 2.4 per cent after announcing it would buy Malarkey Roofing Products for $1.35 billion to expand into the growing US market for home roofs.


Flutter Entertainment rose 3.4% after announcing it would buy Italian online gaming operator Sisal for £1.62 billion ($2.16 billion) to expand its presence in Europe.

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