Summary: Global stocks bounced as much as 1.5% this morning as fears about omicron receded somewhat. South African doctors said the new covid strain’s symptoms were milder than delta’s and it was not causing hospitalisations. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey resigned overnight and Rythm and Vines is expected to cancel its summer festival near Gisborne this morning.

Omicron overblown? Markets rebounded across Europe and the United States this morning as initial investor fears about shutdowns linked to the spread of omicron eased. The S&P 500 was up 1.6% around 7am and European stocks rose about 0.5%. Oil prices rebounded about 3% to over US$75/bbl. US bond yields nudged up and the NZ$ bounced off an overnight low of 67.89 USc to be 68.0 Usc by 7am. (CNBC)

Bad headaches One of the South African doctors who found the omicron variant of covid earlier this month was reported overnight as saying symptoms were milder than delta, forcing a rethink about how damaging a rapid spread of it might be. Dr Angelique Coetzee, the chair of South African Medical Association and a member of South Africa’s Ministerial Advisory Committee on Vaccines, said patients had not reported loss of smell or taste and there has been no major drop in oxygen levels with the new variant. 

Not hospitalised “The most predominant clinical complaint is severe fatigue for one or two days. With them, the headache and the body aches and pain,” Coetzee said. “Most of them are seeing very, very mild symptoms and none of them so far have admitted patients to surgeries. We have been able to treat these patients conservatively at home," Coetzee said (Reuters).

WHO cautious However, the World Health Organisation warned overnight that the overall global risk from omicron was “very high” and WHO head Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus called for fresh urgency in vaccine rollouts to developed countries. “The emergence of the highly mutated omicron variant underlines just how perilous and precarious our situation is,” he said. (Guardian)

Australia delays reopening Many countries remain very nervous about omicron. Australia announced last night it was delaying its border reopening for two weeks because of concerns about the new variant. Vaccinated tourists, students and holders of migrant work visas were due to return tomorrow, but that was ‘paused’ for two weeks. Also, Japan joined Israel overnight in closing its borders completely. (CNN) (The West Australian)

Of course it did The previously obscure omicron cryptocurrency (yes there already was one and it’s Twitter account had 1,000 followers) jumped 1,000% over the weekend to a record high of US$688, but fell 75% to US$371 overnight. However, that’s still higher than earlier last week when it was trading at US$65. It was launched on Nov 8. (CNN)

New Twitter CEO Twitter co-founder and CEO Jack Dorsey resigned this morning and handed over the job to Twitter’s CFO Parag Agrawal, saying it was time for the founders to leave. Dorsey is till CEO of online payments company Square. Twitter shares fell 1% and Square shares rose 0.3 (MarketWatch)

Festival doubts Summer festivals planned for Gisborne and Northland are in doubt after the regions were included in the ‘red’ zones, which limit events to 100. Rhythm and Vine organisers said last night they would announce a decision this morning on whether to go ahead. It was due to be held from Dec 28-31 at the Waiohika Estate 5km west of Gisborne. The Northern Base festival due to be held at Kaiwaka near Mangawhai from Dec 29-31 is also in doubt. Meanwhile, Gisborne’s Rongowhakaata Iwi yesterday called on Rhythm and Vines organisers to call the festival off. PM Jacinda Ardern said yesterday the decision to go ahead was the festival organisers’ and was not her responsibility, citing the events insurance scheme recently set up by the govternment.

No winner yet The National caucus have yet to find a clear choice for its new leader with just a few hours to go before its 3pm caucus meeting. Reports suggest Christopher Luxon holds a small lead over Simon Bridges, but not enough to find a clear winner, and not enough to avoid a contested vote. 

Coming up today Watch for a National leadership decision, probably before the 6pm news bulletins, and ANZ’s first blush of its Nov business confidence survey at 1pm. The Reserve Bank also publish bank lending figures for Oct at 3pm. Parliament is not sitting this week.

From BusinessDesk’s correspondents today: 

  • Jenny Ruth digs through Reserve Bank data to find BNZ took over from ANZ as the country’s biggest business lender in the Sept quarter.
  • Ian Llewellyn previews the last carbon credits auction of the year.
  • Henry Burrell reports on a push to train Māori and Pacific youth for careers in tech.
  • Cameron Bagrie looks at the wealth effect as an inflation driver in his column.

Just In Case You Missed It:

  • Auckland, Northland, Gisborne, Ruepehu and Whanganui will be put into the ‘red’ traffic light from Friday, while Waikato, Bay of Plenty, the Coromandel and the rest of the country will be ‘orange’. The red settings limit of 100 for events puts Rythm and Vines and Northland festivals at risk over Summer. No regions will go ‘green’ this summer (BusinessDesk)
  • The NZX closed down 0.8%, but off its lows on concerns about Omicron. (BusinessDesk)
  • The tourism sector has counted $26b in lost earnings since NZ's border restrictions began. (BusinessDesk)

Latest NZX data (market currently closed)

Wed, 19 Jan 2022 04:59 pm
S&P/NZX 50 INDEX
12,612.31
-202.15 (-1.58%)
$ VALUE TRADED
88,765,638.30
VOLUME TRADED
21,296,976.00
GAINERS
25
DECLINERS
125
TOP GAINERS (valued at above 10c)
Greenfern Industries Ltd $0.015 7.32 %
ikeGPS Group $0.030 3.80 %
Burger Fuel Group $0.010 2.94 %
Metro Performance Glass $0.010 2.82 %
NZ Windfarms $0.005 2.27 %
TOP DECLINERS (valued at above 10c)
Rakon $-0.170 -8.59 %
Scott Technology $-0.180 -5.23 %
Wellington Drive Technologies $-0.010 -5.00 %
Geo $-0.008 -4.76 %
NZX $-0.060 -3.30 %