Initial data from South African hospitals suggest the omicron variant is more transmissible but causes less severe disease.
- Stocks and other risky assets rose strongly yesterday on further signs that the omicron variant is not as bad as feared, with data from South African hospitals suggesting that while the variant seems more transmissible, it does not cause more severe disease than the globally dominant Delta variant, and may even be milder in its effects. A South African study has indicated that while omicron can evade the Pfizer vaccine, fully vaccinated individuals should still have strong protection against developing severe disease. This has given hope to markets that a spread of omicron will not be too damaging economically.
- The Forex market has been relatively quiet, although we have seen a small move against the long-term bullish US dollar trend, with riskier currencies advancing against safe-havens. The British pound stands out as relatively weak.
- The Bank of Canada will release its monthly policy report and interest rate today, which may trigger volatility in the Canadian dollar. The market is not expecting any change in the Canadian interest rate to be announced.
- Almost all major cryptocurrencies have seen a bullish rebound but are no longer advancing strongly. Ethereum is currently stronger than Bitcoin, although Bitcoin is still trading above $50k.
- The omicron coronavirus variant is still being researched and monitored, with morbidity remaining unclear, although early signs are encouraging. Markets remain prone to very strong risk-off movement if forthcoming news about the potency of the omicron variant is negative.
- Last week saw the seventh consecutive global weekly rise in new confirmed coronavirus cases after two months in which cases fell steadily.
- It is estimated that 55.2% of the world’s population has received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccination.
- Total confirmed new coronavirus cases worldwide stand at over 267.4 million with an average case fatality rate of 1.98%.
- The rate of new coronavirus infections appears to now be increasing most quickly in Andorra, Denmark, Finland, France, Italy, Jordan, South Korea, Lebanon, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Norway, Poland, Portugal, San Marino, South Africa, Switzerland, Trinidad, the UK, and the USA.