US edges down in slim ranges; Europe firms, Asia mixed
Major stock indexes turned down in illiquid conditions in the final hour of trading. Earlier, stocks held slim ranges with most sectors better on seasonal demand. The Dow Jones industrial average and S&P both fell 0.3 percent while the NASDAQ fell 0.2 percent.
Late weakness in Apple, down 0.7 percent, Microsoft, down 0.8 percent, and Procter & Gamble, down 0.9 percent, weighed on the major averages. Despite the late weakness, sentiment has been bolstered by hopes that the Omicron variant will not derail the global recovery.
Among sectors, communications services outperformed, and consumer discretionary stocks perked up too on strength in apparel and specialty retailers. On the downside, cruise lines came off after a warning against cruises from the Centers for Disease Control. Norwegian Cruise Lines fell 2.6 percent.
Among companies in focus, Biogen dropped by 7.1 percent after Samsung denied a report it would bid for the US biotech. JetBlue fell 1.0 percent after cutting its flight schedule due to staff shortages. On the positive side, RR Donnelley rose 5.5 percent after receiving a takeover proposal.
These price data reflect observations at 4:00 PM US ET: Dated Brent spot crude oil rose 16 cents to US$79.32 while spot gold rose US$11.99 to US$1,816.98. The US dollar was mixed vs. major currencies. Yields on the US Treasury 30-year bond fell 4 basis points at 1.92 percent, and the 10-year note declined 4 basis points at 1.51 percent.
Equities edged up with support from expectations that the Omicron-driven pandemic will prove relatively mild, with wider restrictions less likely. The Europe-wide STOXX 600, the German DAX, and French CAC firmed 0.2 percent, and the UK FTSE 100 declined 0.2 percent.
Activity was thin as most institutional players are sidelined until next week. Uncertainty over the outlook remains high given the rapid spread of Omicron, and amid lack of visibility over how the pandemic will unfold. Investors still anticipate a hawkish policy turn from Western central banks but expectations also call for more accommodative Chinese monetary and fiscal policy in 2022.
Among sectors, best were travel & leisure, real estate, health care, and tech, while lagging were food & beverage, and autos & parts. Among companies in focus, Wereldhave, the Dutch REIT, rose 2.5 percent after reporting rebounding leasing activity. Logistea, a Swedish warehouse and logistics business, gained 12.5 percent after a big property acquisition.
Equities were mixed with defensive sectors lifting Chinese markets while Japan edged down on consolidative pressures as it closed the year at multi-year highs.
Japanese equities eased on profit-taking and position adjustments on the final trading day of the year. The Nikkei 225 was down 0.4 percent and the Topix declined 0.3 percent.
China's CSI 300 index rose 0.8 percent and the Shanghai composite index gained 0.6 percent. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index firmed 0.1 percent with tech stocks and property stocks limiting the gains. China Evergrande fell 9.1 percent to lead property stocks down after missing another coupon payment.
South Korea's KOSPI slipped 0.5 percent and Taiwan's Taiex declined 0.2 percent as tech stocks retreated.
Australia's All Ordinaries index was flat as stocks were narrowly mixed. Telecom, materials, and financials held up best while energy, tech, and utilities lagged.
In Asia/Pacific, South Korean CPI and Chinese CFLP manufacturing PMI reports are scheduled for release. No major data releases are scheduled in Europe or North America.
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