The Dow Jones Industrial Average hit an all-time high shortly after markets opened yesterday, extending record highs, as a drop in weekly jobless claims revealed that employment was not affected by the increase in coronavirus infections in the United States. According to “Reuters”, the Dow Jones index rose 33.85 points, or 0.09 percent, to 36522.48 points, and the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index rose by 1.17 points, or 0.02 percent, to 4,794.23 points, while the Nasdaq Composite Index fell 7.23 points, or 0.05 percent, to 15,758.98 points.
On the other hand, European shares rose yesterday amid hopes that the matter may not require imposing new restrictions to combat the Covid-19 pandemic in 2022 and expectations that the mutant “Omicron” has become less severe, but gains remained limited due to the increase in infections with the disease.
The pan-European Stoxx 600 index rose 0.1 percent, after falling by the same rate yesterday. Healthcare, technology and retail sectors led the gains.
Several European markets, including Italy, Germany and Spain, are closed today, while trading will be half-time in other markets such as Paris and London on the eve of the New Year.
With Covid-19 infections recording record highs around the world over the seven days to Tuesday, researchers said, “A booster dose of Johnson’s vaccine was 84 percent effective in preventing the need for hospitalization among medical staff in South Africa who were infected with the virus.” Propagation of the mutant omicron”.
Siemens Healthcare shares rose 0.6 percent after the US drug regulator approved the emergency use of home tests to detect Covid-19 infection produced by the German company.
In Asia, the Japanese Nikkei index recorded its highest closing level at the end of the year since the 1980s bubble, albeit with limited losses in thin trading before the four-day holiday.
The Nikkei index lost 0.40 percent, recording 28,791.71 points, at the close, with about 12 shares recording a decline for every high share.
The broader Topix index fell 0.33 percent to 1,92.33 points, but this was also the best closing level at the end of the year since 1989, after rising 10.4 percent this year.
During the year, the Nikkei index increased 4.9 percent, supported by monetary and financial stimulus and hopes of an economic recovery after the pandemic, which pushed stocks to record levels globally this year.
“Backstage looks good next year,” said Masahiro Ichikawa, chief market analyst at Sumitomo Mitsui DS Asset Management, predicting the Nikkei index will cross 30,000 by the end of March.
He added, “It does not appear that Omicron will cause a major shock to the markets, and investors do not seem to be worried about the possibility of the Fed raising rates two or three times next year.”
However, every sector on the Nikkei was down yesterday. The biggest loser was Fast Retailing, which operates Uniqlo stores, after falling 0.55 percent. Nintendo shares fell 2.03 percent and Kikoman to produce the sauce 2.13 percent.
SoftBank Group’s share scored the largest gain in terms of points yesterday, after it increased 1.46 percent. The largest increase in percentage terms was for Z Holdings, formerly known as Yahoo Japan, whose stock rose 3.33 percent.
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