European shares firm as Omicron worries ebb

FILE PHOTO: The German share price index DAX graph is pictured at the stock exchange in Frankfurt, Germany, December 29, 2021. REUTERS/Staff

December 30, 2021

(Reuters) – European shares inched higher on Thursday on hopes that new coronavirus-related curbs and restrictions may not be needed into 2022 as the Omicron variant is seen milder, although surging number of cases kept a lid on gains.

The pan-European STOXX 600 rose 0.1%, as of 0815 GMT, after edging 0.1% lower on Wednesday, with tech, healthcare and retail stocks in the lead.

Several European markets such as Italy, Germany, and Spain will be closed on Friday, while those including Paris and London will trade for half a session, ahead of the New Year.

While global COVID-19 infections hit a record high over the seven-day period until Tuesday, researchers said a booster dose of Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine was 84% effective at preventing hospitalisation in South African healthcare workers who became infected as the Omicron variant spread.

Siemens Healthineers gained 0.6% after the U.S. drug regulator granted emergency use authorisation to the German health tech firms’ at-home COVID-19 tests.

(Reporting by Anisha Sircar in Bengaluru; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)

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