Confirmation of omicron variant in the U.S. rattles stock market

·2 min read

The S&P 500 traded sharply lower as investors continue to assess economic risk of the omicron coronavirus variant.

The first confirmed U.S. cases of the omicron variant rattled the stock market last week, even though anecdotal reports suggest omicron symptoms have been mild so far. New global omicron travel restrictions hit travel and leisure investments hard, including cruise lines, airlines and casino stocks.

COVID-19 'omicron' variant reaches US, vaccine efficacy remains unclear
COVID-19 'omicron' variant reaches US, vaccine efficacy remains unclear

On Friday, the Labor Department reported the U.S. economy added just 210,000 jobs in November, well short of consensus economist estimates of 573,000 jobs. Wages were up 4.8% compared with a year ago, further stoking market concerns about inflation.

On Tuesday, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell told Congress the economy is “very strong” and said he will “retire” the word “transitory” when describing the current environment of elevated U.S. inflation. Powell also said the Fed will likely soon discuss ending its $120 billion in monthly asset purchases “perhaps a few months sooner” than originally planned.

On Monday, Jack Dorsey announced he is stepping down as Twitter CEO effective immediately and will be replaced by Twitter’s chief technology officer, Parag Agrawal. Dorsey will remain on the Twitter board of directors but plans to focus on his role as CEO of digital payment platform Square, which is changing its corporate name to Block on Dec. 10.

Signing off

Shares of electronic signature software stock DocuSign crashed more than 35% on Friday after the company’s fourth-quarter revenue growth guidance fell short of market expectations.

Third-quarter earnings season continues to wind down in the week ahead with reports from GameStop and United Natural Foods on Wednesday and Costco and Broadcom on Thursday.

Analyst estimates for fourth-quarter S&P 500 earnings are down 0.1% since the beginning of October, according to FactSet.

Economic numbers

In the week ahead, investors will get more key economic updates on Tuesday when Eurostat releases its third-quarter Eurozone GDP growth estimate and on Friday when the U.S. Labor Department releases its December Consumer Price Index reading.

Benzinga is a financial news and data company headquartered in Detroit.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Confirmation of omicron variant in the U.S. rattles stock market

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