The new year started on a level playing field on Monday in thinning holiday trade as most markets rose, with some glee provided by data suggesting regional economies improved last month.
However, investors remain hampered by concerns over a range of issues, including the fast-spreading Omicron variant, inflation, the removal of central bank stimulus and geopolitical tensions.
While the final months of 2021 were marked by uncertainty in the trading rooms, global equities saw successful rallies throughout the year as economies reopened and life in most markets. country returned to a semblance of normalcy, fueling optimism that the recovery would remain on track.
And data showing factory activity picked up last month in the region – including South Korea, Taiwan, Malaysia and the Philippines – gave some optimism to start the year. The readings come after China released a better-than-expected figure on Friday thanks to lower commodity prices.
Singapore had a positive day thanks to news that the city-state’s economy grew 7.2% last year, after suffering its worst performance in 2020 since independence.
Seoul, Taipei, Mumbai and Jakarta also rose, although Manila dipped.
Jun Rong Yeap, IG Asia, said: “While the increase in Omicron’s spreads may warrant a cautious approach to reopening, some expectations could be that improved vaccinations will help limit the eventual economic impact. . “
Hong Kong reversed the morning’s gains to end in the red with tech firms a major drag, while sentiment was also affected by news of the suspension of trade with struggling developer China Evergrande, recalling the crisis in the vast Chinese real estate sector.
Frankfurt and Paris opened up.
London, Tokyo, Shanghai, Sydney, Wellington and Bangkok have been closed for holidays.
Oil prices have climbed as eyes turn to the latest meeting of OPEC and other major producers on Tuesday, where they will discuss plans to increase production in light of Omicron’s impact, which has forced some governments to impose lockdowns and airlines to cancel flights.
The commodity was receiving some support from a drop in Libyan production as workers attempted to repair an oil pipeline after a militia shut down the country’s largest oil field.
“I think the OPEC + decision is a fatality and Omicron’s news and data will remain the main influence on oil sentiment,” said Vandana Hari, of Vanda Insights.
“We’re probably seeing a bargain hunt (Monday) after a rush to sell late last week.”
– Key figures around 0820 GMT –
Hong Kong – Hang Seng Index: DOWN 0.5% to 23,274.75 (closing)
Tokyo – Nikkei 225: Closed for public holidays
Shanghai – Composite: Closed on public holidays
Dollar / yen: up to 115.27 yen from 115.11 yen on Friday night
Euro / dollar: DOWN to $ 1.1345 from $ 1.1370
Pound / dollar: DOWN to $ 1.3503 from $ 1.3526
Euro / pound: DROP to 84.02 pence against 84.04
West Texas Intermediate: EN up 0.8% to $ 75.83 per barrel
North Sea Brent: Up 0.8% to $ 78.41 per barrel
New York – DOW: DOWN 0.2% to 36,338.30 (close)
London – FTSE 100: Closed for public holidays
– Bloomberg News contributed to this story –
dan / axn