(Bloomberg) — Asian stocks fell while U.S. equity futures, crude oil and Treasury yields climbed as traders tried to calibrate the possible impact of the omicron coronavirus strain on global economic reopening.
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Equities in Japan, South Korea and Australia retreated. S&P 500 and Nasdaq 100 contracts were in the green and oil jumped back above $70 a barrel. The 10-year U.S. Treasury yield advanced above 1.50%
The moves indicated a measure of calm after Friday’s dramatic plunge in risk assets. Two South African health experts — including the doctor who first sounded the alarm about omicron — suggested the variant is presenting with mild symptoms so far. The World Health Organization urged caution, saying it will take time to assess the strain.
The yen weakened and a dollar gauge was steady. The currency of South Africa, where the variant was identified, rallied against the greenback.
Traders last week pushed back the expected timing of a first 25-basis-point rate increase by the Federal Reserve to July from June. Fed Bank of Atlanta President Raphael Bostic played down economic risks from a new variant, saying he was open to scaling back asset purchases at a faster pace to keep inflation in check.
Investors are trying to work out if the omicron flareup ends up being a relatively brief scare that markets eventually rebound from, or a bigger blow to the global economic recovery. The prospect of tighter monetary policy to tackle price pressures was already complicating the outlook.
“We really need some more answers to figure out the impact on growth,” said Priya Misra, global head of rates strategy at TD Securities. “Risk assets are pricing in uncertainty.”
Moderna Inc.’s chief medical officer said a reformulated shot to combat the new strain could be available early in the new year.
Emerging markets will be in the spotlight after taking some of the biggest hits from the virus jitters. In China, a Peking University study predicted the nation would face a major Covid surge on a scale beyond anything any other country has yet seen if it were to reopen in a similar manner to the U.S.
In cryptocurrencies, Bitcoin climbed over the weekend and was trading around $57,300, after sinking below $54,000 on Friday.
Peter Tchir, head of macro strategy at Academy Securities Inc., said he’s watching emerging-market currency and bond markets, and Bitcoin, “as leading indicators of potentially more risky asset unwinds to come.”
For more market analysis, read our MLIV blog.
Some of the main moves in markets:
S&P 500 futures rose 0.8% as of 9:23 a.m. in Tokyo. The S&P 500 fell 2.3% Friday
Nasdaq 100 futures rose 1%. The Nasdaq 100 fell 2.1% Friday
Topix index fell 1.3%
Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index dropped 0.3%
Kospi index fell 0.5%
Hang Seng Index futures lost 1.2% earlier
The Japanese yen was at 113.77 per dollar, down 0.3%
The offshore yuan was at 6.3946 per dollar
The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index was steady
The euro was at $1.1294, down 0.2%
The yield on 10-year Treasuries rose six basis points to 1.53%
Australia’s 10-year bond yield was at 1.74%
West Texas Intermediate crude rose 4.7% to $71.28 a barrel
Gold fell 0.5% to $1,793.88 an ounce
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