Equities mostly held onto two days of strong gains, with the reopening trade continuing to outperform as investor concerns eased over the Omicron variant. Strength in Apple bolstered the Dow industrials and the NASDAQ. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 0.1 percent, the S&P 500 rose 0.3 percent and the NASDAQ was up 0.6 percent.
Travel stocks were among the day's best performers after Pfizer, down 0.6 percent, said three doses of its vaccine provided protection against the Omicron variant. Cruise line Carnival gained 5.5 percent and Delta Airlines rose 2.2 percent. Communications stocks advanced with a boost from Meta Platforms, up 2.4 percent, and Disney, up 1.7 percent. Energy stocks tracked oil prices higher.
On the downside, financials gave back some of Tuesday's advance. Consumer discretionary declined on weakness in automakers, with GM off 1.2 percent. Consumer staples trailed on a selloff in discounters, with Dollar General off 1.3 percent and Walmart off 1.0 percent. Chipmakers sagged, with Intel off 1.6 percent, but strength in Apple, up 2.3 percent, bolstered technology stocks.
These price data reflect observations at 4:00 PM US ET: Dated Brent spot crude oil rose US$1.12 to US$76.00 while spot gold eased 71 cents to US$1,784.39. The US dollar was mixed vs. major currencies. Yields on the US Treasury 30-year bond rose 9 basis points to 1.90 percent, and the 10-year note rose 4 basis points to 1.52 percent.
Equities retreated on profit-taking and fallout from expectations for new steps in Europe to curb the virus. On the positive side were reports suggesting a three-dose vaccine regimen would be effective against the Omicron variant. The Europe-wide STOXX 600 fell 0.6 percent, the German DAX lost 0.8 percent, the French CAC slipped 0.7 percent and the UK FTSE 100 was flat.
Investors saw conflicting signals on the monetary policy outlook, with the Bank of England increasingly expected to delay any rate increase amid Covid concerns, while the European Central Bank faces rising pressure to scale back policy support in response to inflation concerns.
Among sectors, travel & leisure seesawed higher on conflicting Covid headlines. Other outperformers included health care and financial services. Lagging were retail, technology, basic resources, media, personal & household goods, banks, and real estate.
Equities rose with support from fading concerns over the impact of the Omicron variant, and a boost from Chinese monetary easing.
Consumer staples and chipmakers led Chinese markets higher in a risk-on move powered by the People's Bank of China's cut in bank required reserve ratios and expectations for more policy support. China's CSI 300 index rose 1.5 percent and the Shanghai composite index gained 1.2 percent.
A mixed sector showing left Hong Kong's Hang Seng index up 0.1 percent. Markets appear relatively unfazed by another missed debt payment from China Evergrande, which fell 5.5 percent. Investors expect a restructuring and hope Chinese authorities can limit contagion effects.
South Korea's KOSPI firmed 0.3 percent and Taiwan's Taiex rose 0.2 percent with support from gains in Chinese markets.
Lower concern over Omicron boosted Japanese markets with the Nikkei 225 up 1.4 percent and the Topix up 0.6 percent. Growth stocks outperformed value/cyclicals. Among sectors, best were transportation stocks, real estate, and materials.
Australia's All Ordinaries index advanced by 1.3 percent as Omicron worries eased and markets reacted to Chinese monetary easing. All sectors rose, with materials, telecom, and tech leading.
In Asia/Pacific, Chinese CPI and PPI reports are scheduled. In Europe, the German merchandise trade report is due. In North America, US jobless claims and US wholesale trade reports are on tap.