Friday, 3 December 2021

Omicron to “overwhelm” world in 3-6 months

Omicron is set to take over Delta as the dominant COVID-19 virus strain in the coming months.

Dr Leong Hoe Nam of Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital in Singapore told CNBC that “Omicron will dominate and overwhelm the whole world in three to six months”.

Leong said that with a surge in cases, health-care systems could be overwhelmed even if only 1 or 2 percent of the cases end up in hospital.

On hopes for a vaccine targetted at the variant, Leong said “it is not practical”.

“We won’t be able to rush out the vaccines in time and by the time the vaccines come, practically everyone will be infected [with] Omicron given this high infectious and transmissibility,” he said.

However, Dr Syra Madad, a fellow at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, said that “our current vaccines will hold up to a certain extent, with this new variant” and, with boosters, should still provide a “good level of protection”.

Thursday, 25 November 2021

WHO: COVID-19 vaccination not enough

Markets were mostly higher on Wednesday.

The S&P 500 rose 0.2 percent and the STOXX Europe 600 rose 0.1 percent.

Markets were able to rise despite the continuing threat from COVID-19.

Europe is now once again the epicentre of the pandemic, with Slovakia, the Czech Republic, the Netherlands and Hungary all reporting new highs in daily infections on Wednesday.

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control has recommended vaccine boosters for all adults.

However, the World Health Organization's director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Wednesday: "We're concerned about the false sense of security that vaccines have ended the pandemic and people who are vaccinated do not need to take any other precautions."

Wednesday, 24 November 2021

Markets mixed, European stocks tumble

Markets were mixed on Tuesday.

In the US, the S&P 500 rose 0.2 percent but the Nasdaq Composite fell 0.5 percent.

Elsewhere, the Shanghai Composite rose 0.2 percent but the STOXX Europe 600 fell 1.3 percent.

Angelo Kourkafas, investment strategist at Edward Jones, noted “a little pressure on tech stocks as long-term government bond yields have rallied for the second day now”.

Aptus Capital Advisors portfolio manager John Luke Tyner said in a note: “With a Powell-led Fed, we expect the speed of the QE taper to follow the data, likely speeding up if inflation prints continue at the pace of the October print with interest rate hikes to shortly follow the taper (June at current pace).”

However, for the global supply chain problems that have been blamed for driving up inflation, Esben Poulsson, who chairs the International Chamber of Shipping, told CNBC that “overall, I think the worst is over”.

Tuesday, 23 November 2021

Markets mixed, inflation and COVID-19 risks seen

Markets were mixed on Monday.

The S&P 500 fell 0.3 percent and the STOXX Europe 600 dipped 0.1 percent but the Nikkei 225 rose 0.1 percent.

US President Joe Biden announced on Monday he would nominate Chairman Jerome Powell to continue to lead the Federal Reserve.

UBS director of floor operations Art Cashin said “the market is happy with no disruption” while David Waddell, chief investment strategist at Waddell and Associates, said that “the drivers on today’s action is more technical, short-week, rotational, dollar strength and interest rates up a little bit”.

Wharton finance professor Jeremy Siegel meanwhile warned that inflation poses a risk for the market.

“If the Fed suddenly gets tougher, I’m not sure that the market is going to be ready for a U-turn that Jerome Powell may take if we have one more bad inflation report,” said Siegel.

In Europe, Germany’s acting Chancellor Angela Merkel said that the country was seeing a spike in COVID-19 infections and that stronger action needed to be taken to stop its spread.

The Bundesbank said in its monthly report that risks from an intensified pandemic would exist throughout the winter half-year but added: “As things stand at present, the macroeconomic effects are likely to be less severe than in previous pandemic waves.”

Monday, 22 November 2021

Europe, US face COVID-19 risks again

Dr Hans Kluge, WHO Regional Director for Europe, told the BBC that the continent could see 500,000 more deaths from COVID-19 by March unless urgent action is taken.

Well, good luck on imposing more restrictions.

After a series of new restrictions imposed by European governments over the last few days, protests are erupting in several places, including Brussels, Vienna, Rome and Amsterdam.

Meanwhile, COVID-19 cases in the US are also on the rise, with the daily average of new cases having risen 29 percent in the last 14 days and the US government’s chief medical adviser Dr Anthony Fauci warning on Sunday that time was running short to prevent a “dangerous” new surge of infections from overwhelming the upcoming holiday season.

Saturday, 20 November 2021

Markets mixed, Europe announces new COVID-19 restrictions

Markets were mixed on Friday.

The S&P 500 fell 0.1 percent and the STOXX Europe 600 fell 0.3 percent but the Nikkei 225 rose 0.5 percent.

Markets in Europe and the US were shaken after Germany on Thursday announced more restrictions for unvaccinated people amid a renewed surge in COVID-19 cases and Austria announced on Friday that it will re-enter a full national lockdown.

However, some analysts are confident that the latest developments will not have much impact.

“We’ve been through wave after wave of Covid and different variations of it, and we’ve never really seen a big market sell-off because of it,” said Ross Mayfield, investment strategy analyst at Baird.

In the meantime, Mike Loewengart, managing director of investment strategy at E-Trade Financial, noted that “there are some clear signs that consumers are resilient and corporate balance sheets are strong despite pricing pressures”.