'Santa Rally' falls short, but markets break for Christmas on a high
24 Dec 2021
Major stock markets enjoyed mixed fortunes on the last day of trading before Christmas, with the FTSE 100 briefly hitting not only a pandemic high of 7,403.65 points but the highest level since February 2020 - before the first Covid lockdown when the exchange hit 7,403.92.
The Footsie actually settled one point lower than yesterday's 6-week high, but the general feeling is that things aren't desperate regarding the new Omicron variant. Indeed, data so far seems to suggest Omicron is more transmissable than the Delta variant of Covid-19 but less dangerous – especially when double or triple vaccinated.
Similar volatility in the markets was seen on the S&P 500 in America, with the Standard & Poor setting its 68th record-high close this year (does the US know there's a pandemic on?). Australia's ASX rose by 0.4%, while France's CAC 50 and the Netherlands' AEX ended slightly down akin to the FTSE 100 after the morning's initial surge of positivity.
Shocking nobody, travel and hospitality companies benefitted the most today, with British Airways up 1.9% & Intercontinental Hotels 1.2% respectively. Overall 55 companies gained versus 42 registering losses.
The virus data has kept markets cautiously optimistic ahead of Christmas, with the FTSE 100 up around 4.4% for December. In context, should the data be confirmed accurate in January, this would have been the best month for the UK's main market since November 2020 and the validation of the Pfizer vaccine. In addition, the data would likely boost the already-impressive figure of 14% growth for the Footsie in 2021 – a cause to be celebrated as the UK looks to rehabilitate its economy in the aftermath of the initial pandemic shock.