Studies conducted in South Africa and the United Kingdom showed that the risk of hospitalization was lower after infection with the Omicron variant than with the Delta variant.
Investors are also welcoming some positive data showing the number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits remained steady below pre-pandemic levels last week. Initial claims for state unemployment benefits were flat at 205,000 for the week ended Dec. 18.
Meanwhile consumer spending rose significantly. The Commerce Department said today that it gained 0.6% last month, while data for October was revised up to 1.4% instead of 1.3% as previously reported.
However, inflation is not letting go. November’s personal consumption expenditures (PCE) price index, excluding the volatile food and energy components, climbed 0.5% from October.
Yesterday, Wall Street closed in the green. The S&P500 gained 1.02% and is now less than one percent away from its historical high. Will we see yet another record high before New Year's Eve countdown?
The blues of the beginning of the week already seem far away. Investors are in good spirits, there is not much more to say at the end of the year. Yesterday, several economic indicators were also released, with some pleasant surprises in store. Among the indicators of the session, US growth was revised up to 2.3% annualized in the third quarter, compared to a previous reading of 2.1%. America is on track to achieve annualized growth of 5.6% this year, after a 3.4% contraction last year, the first time this has happened in nearly 40 years.
Still on the macroeconomic front, the good news is that U.S. consumer confidence improved more than expected in December according to the Conference Board's indicator. In other words, inflation is less of a concern despite the rapid rise of the Omicron variant.
So there is plenty of room for optimism, and nothing seems likely to spoil the festivities after an exceptional 2021 vintage for US equities. Our editorial will come back on January 3rd. Happy holidays to all!
Today's economic highlights:
Along with unemployment claims, household spending and income and durable goods orders, today’s indicators include new home sales.
The dollar is trading at EUR 0.8848. The ounce of gold is back above USD 1,800. In the oil market, WTI is trading at $73.04, while Brent is at $ 75.56. U.S. debt offers a 10-year yield of 1.46%. Bitcoin is stabilizing at USD 48500
* Novavax - The U.S. company said Wednesday that preliminary data showed its COVID-19 vaccine elicited an immune response against the Omicron variant of the coronavirus.
* Merck & Co - The Philippines on Thursday approved the U.S. drugmaker's COVID-19 antiviral treatment for adults at risk of developing severe forms of the disease.
* Intel - The U.S. semiconductor maker apologized Thursday to its customers, partners and the Chinese public after it issued a letter asking its suppliers not to source products or labor from the western region of Xinjiang.
* Credit Suisse expects the automaker to deliver 290,000 vehicles in the fourth quarter against a consensus of 267,000 units. Tesla shares rise slightly in pre-market trading.
* JD.Com, Walmart - Chinese video game and social networking group Tencent announced Thursday that it would pay its shareholders a $16.4 billion dividend, making up the bulk of its stake in JD.com, a Chinese e-commerce company. As a result of the deal, Tencent's stake in JD.com will fall from 17% to 2.3%, making Walmart now the largest shareholder in the Chinese online shopping group. JD.com's stock fell 8.3% in pre-market trading.
* Twitter - A Russian court announced Thursday that it had fined Twitter another three million rubles for failing to remove content deemed illegal.
* Exxon - The oil company reported a fire at its Baytown, Texas, site, which includes a chemical plant and a 560,500-barrel-a-day oil refinery.
- Abbott Laboratories: Wells Fargo hikes PT to $155 From $142, maintains Overweight rating
- Adobe: President Capital Management raised its recommendation to buy from neutral. PT up 17% to $660
- AT&T: Daiwa Securities reinstated coverage with a recommendation of neutral. PT set to $26
- Capital & Regional PLC: Stifel upgrades its advice to neutral and targets GBP 60.
- Cisco Systems: Citigroup adjusts Cisco Systems' price target to $65 from $55, maintains Neutral rating
- General Mills: Credit Suisse raises PT to $65 from $63, keeps Neutral rating
- Sanmina: Sidoti & Company initiated coverage with a recommendation of buy. PT set to $61
- T-Mobile: Daiwa Securities initiated coverage with a recommendation of neutral. PT up 6.2% from last price to $128
- Under Armour: Cowen adjusts PT to $30 from $35, reiterates Outperform rating
- Verizon: Daiwa Securities reinstated coverage with a recommendation of neutral. PT up 8% from last price to $5