European Markets

Stocks stumble, yields choppy after U.S. jobs report as Omicron looms

3 minute read

The German share price index DAX graph is pictured at the stock exchange in Frankfurt, Germany, September 5, 2018. REUTERS/Staff/File Photo

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  • MSCI global index slides in volatile trade
  • Wall St drops after opening up; equities down in Europe
  • U.S. job growth slows; unemployment rate plunges to 4.2%
  • Yields mixed after jobs report, dollar gains
  • Oil rises as OPEC+ poised to act if demand weakens

NEW YORK/LONDON, Dec 3 (Reuters) - Global stock markets faltered on Friday, while benchmark bond yields gave up earlier gains after data showed U.S. job growth slowed considerably in November and markets stayed volatile as investors assess implications from the new Omicron coronavirus variant.

After opening higher, Wall Street's main indexes quickly turned negative in morning trading. European markets also lost gains. MSCI's gauge of stocks across the globe (.MIWD00000PUS) shed 0.52%.

Omicron has gained a foothold in Asia, Africa, the Americas, the Middle East and Europe and has reached seven of the nine provinces of South Africa, where it was first identified. Many governments have tightened travel rules to keep the variant out. read more

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“The top issue is still this whole Omicron variant. There are enormous amounts of uncertainty there,” said Randy Frederick, vice president of trading and derivatives for Charles Schwab in Austin.

“Volatility means big moves in both directions and we have had a lot of up days and a lot of down days that are both very sizable here just in the last week... The market is a bit treacherous.”

The Labor Department said U.S. nonfarm payrolls increased by 210,000 jobs last month, well below the 550,000 jobs economists polled by Reuters had forecast, but the unemployment rate plunged to a 21-month low of 4.2%, suggesting the labor market was rapidly tightening. read more

"On the surface, the numbers came in disappointing because they did not match expectations, but it was not a weak report," said Kevin Flanagan, head of fixed income strategy at WisdomTree Investments.

On Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (.DJI) fell 121.78 points, or 0.35%, to 34,518.01, the S&P 500 (.SPX) lost 33.34 points, or 0.73%, to 4,543.76 and the Nasdaq Composite (.IXIC) dropped 244.47 points, or 1.59%, to 15,136.85.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index (.STOXX) lost 0.43%.

The data caps a turbulent week as investors assess the implications of the Omicron variant and what that means for growth, inflation and ultimately central bank policy.

Markets were also digesting comments earlier in the week from Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell, who said U.S. central bankers in December will discuss whether to end their bond purchases a few months earlier than had been anticipated. read more

U.S. Treasury yields were mixed in choppy trading after initially falling on the closely watched jobs data. read more

Benchmark 10-year notes last rose 7/32 in price to yield 1.4257%, from 1.449% late on Thursday.

The dollar rose after initially falling after the jobs report. read more

The dollar index rose 0.298%, with the euro down 0.19% to $1.1278. The Japanese yen weakened 0.02% versus the greenback at 113.20 per dollar.

Oil prices climbed after the producer group OPEC+ said it could review its policy to hike output at short notice if oil demand collapsed due to a rising number of pandemic lockdowns. read more

U.S. crude recently rose 3.11% to $68.57 per barrel and Brent was at $72.03, up 3.39% on the day.

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Additional reporting by Karen Pierog In Chicago, Dhara Ranasinghe in London, Tom Westbrook in Sydney; Editing by Alison Williams, Kirsten Donovan and Nick Zieminski

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