The Associated Press
Stocks are opening mostly higher on Wall Street, led by gains in airlines and other travel-related companies that would benefit from more reopening of the economy. The S&P 500 edged up 0.1% in the early going Monday and the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.9%. Tech companies fell, pulling the Nasdaq down 0.9%. Delta, United Airlines and Alaska Air each rose about 3%. Traders were encouraged to see that Dr. Anthony Fauci, the White House’s chief medical adviser, said early indications suggested that the new omicron variant of the COVID-19 virus may be less dangerous than the delta variant.
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. AP’s earlier story follows below.
BANGKOK (AP) — European shares and U.S. futures rose Monday after a lackluster day in Asia, where shares fell in Hong Kong and Shanghai after troubled Chinese property developer Evergrande warned it may run out of money.
Moving to reassure investors and keep growth from stalling, China’s central bank cut the amount of funds banks are required to keep in reserve. That freed up 1.2 trillion yuan ($190 billion) for banks to lend.
Investors are meanwhile also struggling with uncertainty about the newest coronavirus variant and about when the Federal Reserve will cut off its support for markets.
“This is a week that will force uncomfortable contemplation about ‘known unknowns’ mainly associated with omicron, Fed tightening and China (regulatory/property) risks,” Mizuho Bank said in a commentary.
That will bring still more uncertainty after a tumultuous spell last week, it said.
Germany’s DAX surged 0.9% to 15,298.76 while the CAC 40 in Paris climbed 0.8% to 6,820.83. Britain’s FTSE 100 picked up 0.8% to 7,181.36. The future for the Dow industrials was 0.8% higher, while the contract for the S&P 500 gained 0.6%.
Chinese regulators scrambled to reassure investors after Evergrande, one of China’s biggest developers, said it may run out of money to “perform its financial obligations” as it struggles to comply with pressure to reduce its $310 billion in debt.
The worry is that unsustainable levels of debt in the property sector might trigger a financial crisis. China wants to avoid a bailout but also is unlikely to let the situation deteriorate to the point where problems would cascade to that level.
A number of real estate companies have run into trouble as the government has pushed to reduce debt levels, but officials have issued statements saying China’s financial system is strong and default rates are low. Most developers are financially healthy and Beijing will keep lending markets functioning, the most recent statements said.
Evergrande’s Hong Kong-traded shares plunged 19.6% on Monday, helping pull the Hang Seng index 1.8% lower, to 23,349.38. The Shanghai Composite index gave up early gains, losing 0.5% to 3,589.31.
India’s benchmark dropped 1.7% and Taiwan’s also edged lower. Thai markets were closed for a public holiday.
In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 gave up 0.4% to 27,927.37. But the S&P/ASX 500 in Sydney ended slightly higher, gaining 0.1% to 7,245.10. In Seoul, the Kospi edged 0.2% higher to 2,973.25.
Chinese tech giant Alibaba, which has been embroiled in a multi-faceted crackdown on the industry, lost 5.6% after the company said it was replacing its chief financial officer, Maggie Wu and overhauling its e-commerce business.
Last week’s volatile swings on Wall Street ended Friday with more losses for stocks, as a mixed batch of U.S. job market data triggered another bout of dizzying trading.
The S&P 500 closed 0.8% lower, at 4,538.43. The Dow lost 0.2% to 34,580.08. The Nasdaq sank 1.9% to 15,085.47, while the Russell 2000 slumped 2.1% to 2,159.31.
Friday’s jobs report, which is usually the most anticipated economic data by Wall Street each month, showed employers added only 210,000 jobs last month. Economists were expecting much stronger hiring of 530,000, and it raised worries the economy may stagnate while inflation remains high. That’s a worse-case scenario called “stagflation” by economists, and the omicron variant’s arrival makes its likelihood more uncertain.
In other trading Monday, U.S. benchmark crude oil advanced $2.00 to $68.26 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It shed 24 cents to $66.26 on Friday.
Brent crude, the standard for pricing international oils, picked up $1.85 to $71.73 per barrel.
The U.S. dollar rose to 113.26 Japanese yen from 112.92 yen. The euro weakened to $1.1297 from $1.1309.
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