The new Omicron coronavirus variant is discovered in more countries as scientists assess its morbidity and resistance to existing vaccines.
- Yesterday saw markets move back into a more risk-off mode as the omicron coronavirus variant is found to be present in more countries and scientists assess its potential dangers. It is believed that the new variant will be more resistant to vaccines (according to the Moderna CEO) and will spread more quickly, but its morbidity remains unclear. Stock markets are lower, with the Chinese Hang Seng Index falling to a new 1-year low price. Commodities, especially Crude Oil, are broadly lower. In the Forex market, safe haven currencies such as the yen have resumed their rise while the commodity currencies NZD, AUD, and CAD look weak. The situation remains volatile and markets remain prone to very strong risk-off movement if forthcoming news about the potency of the omicron variant is negative.
- The omicron variant is confirmed to be present in South Africa, the UK, Israel, the Netherlands, Canada, Australia, Belgium, Botswana, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Portugal, Spain, and Austria. There are confirmations of community spread. Several countries (most recently Japan) have either entirely closed their borders to non-citizens, while the US and the EU and other countries are imposing a ban on travel from South Africa and other African nations. The South African government is complaining such bans will be useless and damaging and have urged their repeal. The omicron variant has originated in South Africa and is now widespread there. The South African rand fell sharply on Friday, and is continuing to fall today after stabilizing somewhat yesterday.
- Today will see releases of Canadian and Australian GDP data.
- Last week saw the fifth consecutive global weekly rise in new confirmed coronavirus cases after two months in which cases fell steadily.
- It is estimated that 54.2% of the world’s population has received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccination.
- Total confirmed new coronavirus cases worldwide stand at over 262.4 million with an average case fatality rate of 1.99%. Cases are already surging in Europe and many analysts expect cases will rise significantly if wherever the omicron variant becomes established.
- The rate of new coronavirus infections appears to now be increasing most quickly in Andorra, Belgium, Bolivia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Jordan, South Korea, Laos, Lebanon, Luxembourg, Mali, Monaco, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Poland, San Marino, Slovakia, South Africa, Switzerland, Trinidad, the UK, and Vietnam.