Markets look to hold steady showing signs that Omicron might be milder

In the U.S fixed income space, yields on benchmark 10-year Treasury notes were a little unchanged at 1.4756% compared with its U.S. close of 1.481% on Tuesday. The two-year yield, which rises with traders’ expectations of higher Fed fund rates, touched 0.7402% after hitting 0.758% the previous session, a near two-year high. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.26% on Tuesday, the S&P 500 hit a record intraday high during the session but weakened to end the day off 0.10% while the Nasdaq Composite lost 0.56%.

Stocks in Europe extended gains to a third straight session on Wednesday, led by banks and retail shares, although rising coronavirus cases fueled concerns about the economic outlook for next year. The pan-European STOXX 600 added 0.2% as of 08:15 GMT, with retail, banks and travel stocks rising between 0.3% and 1.3%. The benchmark hit a five-week high in its previous session. France’s CAC 40 had also reached a new record, although the index was flat in early trade on Wednesday after the country’s new coronavirus cases in a 24-hour period hit a record high of 179,807 on Tuesday, one of the highest one-day tallies worldwide since the start of the pandemic. Britain’s FTSE 100 (FTSE), meanwhile, jumped 1% on higher oil prices and slim prospects of lockdowns till the year-end. Germany’s 10-year yield was a little changed at -0.24% while Britain’s 10-year yield advanced two basis points to 0.94%.

Stocks in Asia slipped on Wednesday following a mixed Wall Street session as the region’s investors positioned their portfolios for the new year and grappled with increasing global numbers of Omicron coronavirus cases. The MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan lost 0.3%, after six sessions of gains, following volatile U.S. trade. There were losses in Hong Kong, down 0.99% and hurt by declines in mainland tech stocks while Chinese blue chips shed 1.4%. In China, the city of Xian entered its seventh day of lockdown on Wednesday after it reported 151 domestically transmitted COVID-19 infections with confirmed symptoms the prior day.

Crude oil prices held near a one-month high, partly on bets that the global recovery can ride out omicron. Oil prices did near a one-month high after industry data pointed to another drop in U.S. crude inventories and traders bet the fast-spreading omicron virus variant would prove to be less severe than earlier waves. WTI did hold steady near $76 a barrel after gaining 11% over the last five sessions. The American Petroleum Institute reported nationwide crude holdings fell by 3.1 million barrels last week, according to people familiar with the data, which also showed a rise at Cushing, the biggest U.S. storage hub. The government releases the official tally later on Wednesday.