Omicron continues to roil the markets—U.S. futures rise while Bitcoin and global stocks fall

December 2, 2021, 10:23 AM UTC

Good morning.

The markets are in full Jekyll-and-Hyde mode. Stocks are having a rough day in Asia and Europe following Wednesday’s late-day sell-off in the United States. U.S. futures, however, are on the rise today, further sign that investors are still unclear what kind of threat Omicron—or is it OMG-cron?—may pose for the global economy. Incidentally, there’s all this debate out there about how to pronounce Omicron. I’m going with oh-MEE-crohn.

No matter how you say it… there’s actually mounting medical data downplaying the threat of this new variant. And equity strategists at JPMorgan Chase, for one, see Omicron as “an opportunity to buy the dip in cyclicals, commodities and reopening themes.”

On cue, risk assets such as crude, commodities and even U.S. tech stocks are bouncing back as I type.

Crypto, however, remains a curiosity. Bitcoin is under pressure again this morning, but Ether is jumping. Look for more decoupling talk about the two top alt-coins.

In today’s Buzzworthy section, we look at rising COVID cases, and sinking tech darlings.

But first, let’s see what’s moving markets.

Markets update


  • The major Asia indexes finished the day mixed with the Nikkei, the worst of the bunch, closing down by nearly 0.7%.
  • According to a Bloomberg scoop, Apple is warning suppliers of lackluster demand for its top-of-the-line iPhones—which my kids tell me is no longer the iPhone 5—and that’s sinking the stocks of its Asian components-providers. Shares in Apple are down too, off more than 2% in pre-market trading.
  • There’s good news/bad news for you dedicated followers of fashion. The global apparel industry is on track for a full recovery next year. The bad news: a growing number of fashion labels intend to pass on price increases to customers.


  • The European bourses were awash in red at the open, with the Stoxx Europe 600 off 0.9% two hours into the session. Tech and travel and leisure were leading the way lower.
  • The euro continues its long fade as Omicron (and Delta) alarm bells ring across the eurozone. Talk of vaccine mandates is gathering steam in Germany and elsewhere, as is a movement towards fines and lockdowns.
  • The Economist Intelligence Unit’s annual most-expensive-cities-to-live-in list is out, and the top spot this year goes to Tel Aviv… Rome also made the list—but just barely. The Eternal City saw the biggest drop, all the way down to 48th place. That might have something to do with the abandoned roadworks project in my neighborhood. And the trash problem. And the wild boars problem. And the…


  • The up/down/up/down pattern continues as U.S. futures point to a decent open. That’s after all three major averages sank in afternoon trading to finish deep in the red on Wednesday. The culprit: the first confirmed case of Omicron on U.S. soil—in California.
  • As if inflation and Omicron weren’t enough for investors, there’s growing concern over a government shutdown should a deal—any kind of funding deal—not be reached by the end of the week.
  • Ahead of tomorrow’s big jobs report, we have jobless data out today before the bell. The consensus is for 240,000 new claims in the past week, a tick higher from what we saw a week ago.


  • Gold is down, trading around $1,775/ounce.
  • The dollar is up.
  • Crude is rebounding after Wednesday’s big sell-off, with Brent trading back above $70/barrel.
  • Bitcoin is trading sideways, hovering around $57,000—flat over the past week. Ether, though, is up again.



Delta blues, winter edition

These trend lines show a somewhat more encouraging picture for hard-hit Northern Europe, but the numbers are worsening in Southern Europe and North America. We have the full global breakdown here.


$BABA boom

I’m old enough to remember when, last autumn, we were talking about Alibaba as the next trillion-dollar Internet giant. A Chinese regulatory crackdown and the ultimate silencing of founder Jack Ma has deflated the company to a mere shell of its former self.


A rough $HOOD

The loss-making investing app closed yesterday at $23.93, or nearly 37% below its IPO price.


Twitter to Robinhood: Hold my 🍺

Since that Tweet, Twitter share price has fallen a further 2.5%. Rough start for new CEO Parag Agrawal.



Have a nice day. I’ll see you here tomorrow… Until then, there’s more news below.

Bernhard Warner

As always, you can write to or reply to this email with suggestions and feedback.

Today's reads

2022 Fortune Investors GuideFortune

11 steady-rising stocks to own for 2022Fortune

What to expect from the stock market in 2022, according to leading forecast modelsFortune

With Higher Rates on the Horizon, Some Pandemic-Favorite Stocks Are SufferingWall Street Journal

Market candy

Quiz time

There are five companies that now reside in the exclusive trillion-dollar club. Which of the following is not part of the Big-T club?

  • A. Alphabet
  • B. Alibaba
  • C. Tesla
  • D. Amazon

The answer is...B, Alibaba. Spoiler: BABA has had a really rough year; its Hong Kong-listed shares are down nearly 45% YTD. The other three above—plus Apple and Microsoft—are comfortably sitting on a 13-figure market valuation. My colleague Matthew Heimer on what could knock them off that throne.

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