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LIVE MARKETS Three virus scenarios for airlines

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  • European shares hit 7-week low, volatility spikes
  • Moderna CEO raises vaccine efficacy doubts
  • Travel stocks eye worst month since March 2020
  • U.S. stock index futures tumble

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THREE VIRUS SCENARIOS FOR AIRLINES (1110 GMT)

Omicron has thrown travel plans up in the air as governments tighten curbs just ahead of the key Christmas shopping season.

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Clearly the whole travel and leisure sector has been hardly hit with the European index < .SXTP> down more than 20% so far in November and set for its biggest monthly drop since March 2020, when COVID-19 fears reached their peak market impact.

Airlines, too, have been hammered with a Refintiv Global Airline index (.TRXFLDGLPUARLI) down over 10% month-to-date, and also on course for its worst month since March last year.

HSBC has tried to put some order around what are the risks for airlines in the coming months, setting out three scenarios for European carriers.

"The current outlook for aviation stocks will likely be shaped by the effectiveness of vaccines against the new Omicron variant. Pending clarity on this, aviation is being impacted by a swathe of travel restrictions, which will weaken trading to Christmas," they say.

Its base case assumes vaccine effectiveness is not materially weaker, which means "only a one-quarter delay to a travel recovery" and a 5% cut to price targets.

Its middle scenario of a "somewhat degraded effectiveness" envisages a six-month delay to recovery, while in a third unfavourable case it sees a full-year delay to recovery.

snapshot

(Danilo Masoni)

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EUROPE SET FOR NOVEMBER LOSSES ON OMICRON WORRIES BITE (0810 GMT)

The pan-European STOXX 600 is on course for losses of about 3% in November as the warning from Moderna's CEO that COVID-19 vaccines may be less effective against the Omicron variant rocks the last day of trading of the month.

Remarks by President Joe Biden that the United States would not reinstate lockdowns had helped soothe markets as did upbeat Chinese factory activity but the comments from the Moderna CEO were a total game changer.

"As a result of these rather frank comments, markets in Asia dropped sharply and the gains made yesterday in European trading look set to disappear as we look to a sharply lower open later this morning, while US futures have also rolled over", CMC Markets analyst Michael Hewson wrote ahead of the open.

"As we look ahead to the rest of the week, this morning’s drop in markets shows that sentiment is set to remain extremely fickle until we get a clearer idea of what comes next when it comes to the new variant", he added.

European stocks opened down 1% at 462 points, that's 4% below the close on last Thursday, when the word Omicron meant little or nothing to most of the world.

As one would expect, oil and gas stocks are losing badly, down 1.6% with oil prices sliding down again. Most cyclical stocks are in a bad place too: banks, car makers and retail are down about 1.5%.

stoxx

(Julien Ponthus)

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LONG COVID (0801 GMT)

World stocks' 0.6% rise on Monday came nowhere close to recouping Friday's 2.2% loss, but even that is under threat after Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel predicted existing vaccines would struggle with the Omicron variant.

Fed Chairman Jerome Powell will also tell U.S. lawmakers later in the day the variant could imperil economic recovery, prepared remarks show read more . Those comments have already sent 10-year Treasury yields down 7 basis points this morning .

So a loss-making Asian session has given way to red ink in Europe, where German markets appear headed 2% lower. Futures point to hefty Wall Street losses, the yen and Swiss franc are again catching a bid and oil prices have slid more than $1.

COVID headlines overshadowed a pickup in official Chinese PMIs, which showed factory activity cranking up in November and services coming in steady from the previous month.

And for those still in data watching mode, euro zone inflation data could show a big number, accelerating from October's 4.1%. Remember, Monday brought German November CPI of 5.2% year-on-year, the highest since 1992. The picture is one of economic growth under threat, even as a possible COVID comeback risks exacerbating supply chain glitches.

What happens next is anyone's guess. Citi analysts write that Friday's selloff wiped out investors' bullish bias on the S&P 500, while European positioning had already turned neutral in Europe.

There is room for more position unwinding, but also scope for a bounce.

Key developments that should provide more direction to markets on Tuesday:

- ECB likely to keep buying bonds through 2022; could resume PEPP - ECB Vice President Luis de Guindos read more

-South Korea, global trade bellwether, saw October factory output shrink at the sharpest pace in nearly 1-1/2 years read more

-Airline easyJet sees softening in demand as COVID clouds outlook read more

-Macau gambling group Suncity's shares plunge after CEO arrested read more

- Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey hands reins to technology chief Agrawal read more

-NATO Foreign Ministers meeting in Latvia

-France flash CPI; Euro zone flash inflation

-Fed speakers: Jerome Powell testifies before a Senate Banking Committee; New York President John Williams

-Emerging markets: Hungary central bank meets: Turkey Q3 GDP, India Q3 GDP

-Monthly US house prices/Chicago PMI

-Europe earnings; EasyJet, Wise,

-US earnings: Salesforce

Euro zone inflation

(Sujata Rao)

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FASTEN YOUR SEATBELT: EUROPE SET TO DROP ON MODERNA WARNING(0710 GMT)

European stocks are set to open sharply lower this morning after Moderna's CEO warned that COVID-19 vaccines are likely to be less effective against the Omicron variant.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan is currently down 0.75% and futures for European indexes are falling about 1.5%.

The direction of travel is pretty much the same for Wall Street.

(Julien Ponthus)

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