European Markets Rise To Start New Trading Week

European stocks started the new trading week higher despite elevated concerns over the newly discovered Omicron variant of COVID-19.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 index is up 0.9% with travel and leisure stocks jumping 3% to lead gains, while automotive stocks fell 0.2%. Almost all sectors and major indexes traded in positive territory, with stocks looking to rebound from Friday’s big selloff.

While scientists continue to research the variant, Omicron’s large number of mutations has raised alarm. Preliminary evidence suggests the strain has an increased risk of reinfection though its symptoms are reported as being mild, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Vaccine makers have announced measures to investigate Omicron with testing already underway. While it remains to be seen how Omicron responds to current vaccines or whether new formulations are required, Moderna said over the weekend that the vaccine maker could roll out a reformulated vaccine against the Omicron variant early next year (2022).

U.S. stock futures are also moving higher in premarket trading following Friday’s selloff as investors look ahead to key economic data set to be released this week, including the November jobs report which is expected to show solid job growth.

Elsewhere, shares in Asia-Pacific are largely down as markets struggled to regain confidence after the WHO’s latest announcement. The Nikkei 225 in Japan and Hang Seng index in Hong Kong each fell more than 2%.

Oil prices were higher during early European trading hours, after Brent crude dropped as much as 13% last Friday, its worst day this year. International benchmark Brent crude futures were up 3.7% to $75.43 U.S. per barrel while U.S. crude futures gained 4.3% to $71.09 U.S. per barrel.