European Shares Seen Mixed As Omicron Cases Rise

European stocks are seen opening mixed on Thursday after the World Health Organization warned that the ongoing circulation of the Delta variant and the emergence and rapid spread of Omicron could create a “tsunami” of infections that could overwhelm health care systems.

China put hundreds of thousands more people under lockdown, while infections hit new highs in multiple U.S. states and European countries.

Asian markets were subdued amid thin trade in the last few trading days of the year. Gold edged lower but hovered above the key $1,800 per ounce level.

The dollar and yen were at the low end of their recent ranges while crude oil prices rose on signs of falling U.S. inventories.

Oil was close to finishing 2021 with gains of more than 50 percent while gold was on course to record its worst performance in six years.

U.K. Nationwide house price data is due later in the session. Economists expect a 0.5 percent rise in house prices month-on-month in December, slower than the 0.9 percent rise in November.

Across the Atlantic, trading may be impacted by reaction to the weekly jobless claims data along with a report on Chicago-area business activity.

U.S. stocks ended mostly higher overnight, with recent reports indicating strong holiday sales for retailers as well as early studies pointing to a reduced risk of hospitalization in Omicron cases helping underpin investor sentiment.

The Dow rose 0.3 percent and the S&P 500 edged up 0.1 percent to reach new record closing highs while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite ended flat with a negative bias.

The pan-European Stoxx Europe 600 eased 0.1 percent. The German DAX fell 0.7 percent and France’s CAC 40 index eased 0.3 percent while the U.K.’s FTSE 100 climbed 0.7 percent as traders returned to their desks after the Christmas holiday period.

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