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U.S. stocks notch higher on Omicron optimism while Evergrande debt clouds darken

December 9, 2021, 12:37 AM UTC

Good evening, Bull Sheeters. This is Fortune reporter Rey Mashayekhi, filling in for Bernhard for the rest of this week with a special PM edition of the newsletter.

Markets in the U.S. continued to emit optimism as more details emerged about the Omicron variant of the coronavirus, though the European bourses weren’t feeling the joy. In Asia, the major indexes all jumped despite an underwhelming public debut for microblogging service Weibo and more bad news on the Evergrande debt crisis.

Markets update

U.S.

  • After Tuesday’s robust gains, markets in New York notched higher Wednesday amid hope that the Omicron variant may not be as disruptive as feared. The S&P rose 0.3%, the Dow picked up 0.1%, and the Nasdaq gained 0.6%
  • It was a busy day for hearings on Capitol Hill. Executives from major crypto firms including FTX, Circle, and Coinbase testified before the House Financial Services, while Instagram head Adam Mosseri spoke before the Senate Commerce Committee.
  • The U.S. labor market has only further tightened since the summer, with nearly five million more job openings than people looking for work. In turn, companies are planning to raise wages at their highest rate since 2008.
  • The U.S. trade deficit narrowed in October as the country boosted exports of oil, food, and cars.
  • Mortgage broker Better.com is delaying its SPAC merger—having amended the deal a day before it laid off 900 employees over Zoom.
  • Vyera Pharmaceuticals—the drug company formerly run by disgraced, since-convicted executive Martin Shkreli—was ordered to pay $40 million to resolve price-gouging allegations with regulators.
  • The once-volatile meme-stock GameStop has settled into a steady trading range—one that’s still more than 1,000% higher than where it was trading a year ago.

Europe

  • The European bourses were down across the board Wednesday. London’s FTSE notched down fractionally, Frankfurt’s DAX lost 0.8%, the CAC 40 in Paris slipped 0.7%, and the pan-European STOXX 600 fell 0.6%.
  • Beleaguered German lender Deutsche Bank’s troubles are not over, after the U.S. Justice Department reportedly informed the bank that it may have violated the terms of a criminal settlement.
  • Swiss food and drink conglomerate Nestlé reduced its stake in L’Oréal by selling $10 billion in stock back to the French cosmetics giant.
  • Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has urged Turks to stay patient amid the lira’s collapse. Meanwhile, other emerging markets appear to have dodged contagion from Turkey’s woes.
  • Europe’s first cross-border trial of central bank digital currency (CBDC) payments, involving the euro and Swiss franc, was dubbed a success by the French and Swiss central banks.

Asia

  • The Asian markets had a bumper day. While Hong Kong’s Hang Seng notched up less than 0.1%, the Nikkei in Tokyo climbed 1.4%. On mainland China, Shanghai’s SSE Composite gained 1.2% and Shenzhen’s SZSE Component picked up 1.8%. South Korea’s KOSPI rose 0.3%.
  • Chinese social media giant Weibo saw its shares close more than 7% below their IPO price in its Hong Kong market debut Wednesday.
  • Chinese property developer Evergrande inched closer to default after missing a debt payment deadline this week, while fellow Chinese developer Kaisa had trading of its shares in Hong Kong suspended thanks to its own missed debt deadline.
  • China is reining in its central bank’s already limited independence.
  • Former Malaysia Prime Minister Najib Razak lost an appeal against his conviction on corruption charges tied to his role in the 1MDB scandal.

Elsewhere

  • Gold was flat, with prices under $1,800/ounce.
  • The dollar eased.
  • Crude oil rose, with Brent approaching $76/barrel.
  • Bitcoin moved up further beyond the $50,000 mark.

***

That’s all for today; please be sure to check out today’s reads below. Have a wonderful evening and see you tomorrow.

Rey Mashayekhi
@reym12
rey.mashayekhi@fortune.com

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

Today's reads

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Market candy

$0.38

That’s how much gas prices are expected to fall by January, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The federal agency on Tuesday said it expects the average price per gallon to decline from $3.39 in November—its highest level in over seven years—to $3.01 in January. It added that gas prices should average $2.88 per gallon in 2022, well below where they’ve been this year amid pandemic-related supply issues.

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