LIVE MARKETS STOXX flat in thin trade

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European stocks are hovering around the floating line, with just some stock markets open for half a day on Christmas eve, including London, Paris and Amsterdam.

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The STOXX 600 index (.STOXX) is flat with all sectors within a tight range. Travel and leisure stock index (.SXTP) is up 0.3% after yesterday’s rally.

Hopeful developments around the Omicron variant boosted risk sentiment this week, but a great deal of uncertainty still surrounds future pandemic trajectories.

It wasn’t very reassuring for the global economy and the supply chain that rising COVID-19 infections in China’s city of Xian have spurred a lockdown of its 13 million residents, with several companies saying their operations have been affected.

On the other hand, central banks will taper their monetary stimulus in 2022, but this doesn’t seem to bother real rates which remain well in negative territory in the U.S. and in Europe, boosting appetite for stocks.


(Stefano Rebaudo)



How many of the investment calls made a year ago did what they promised? As is usual in any year, some asset classes stubbornly refused to do as they were told.

Take the dollar. At this time last year, shorting the dollar was the most “crowded” trade, BofA said, citing its monthly fund manager survey. Some have pointed out in the past how his particular poll has acted as a contrarian indicator but this one has been particularly spectacular; the dollar index is up 7% this year. No central bank can “out-dove” the Fed, we were told, but of course, plenty managed it.

The other one that went wrong was emerging markets; expecting a rebound in trade, tourism and commodity prices, alongside dollar weakness, Morgan Stanley a year ago told clients “Gotta Buy EM All!”

Hopefully they didn’t. Emerging currency debt has lost 9% and equities are down 6%. Those index moves of course contain some gems (look at 20% gains for Indian shares and a 15% rise for frontier market equities) but also unfortunately… some Turkeys.

Even after some unorthodox measures by the administration to repair the damage, the lira remains down some 50%-plus on the year.

The commodity and oil bet has worked however, as has U.S. tech, the gift which kept giving — for all the threats of more fines for monopolistic behaviour, higher taxes and challenges from smaller tech firms, the U.S. Nasdaq index rose 26%.

And makers of semiconductors — dubbed the new oil by some — are up 40% (.SOX), not too far behind Brent’s 45% rebound.

(Sujata Rao)



European shares look set to ease slightly after rising this week amid expectations that the Omicron variant won’t derail the economic recovery, although activity should remain thin as most cash and derivatives markets are either closed or open half day.

Some analysts argue that the recent “revival in risk appetite” seen in thin volume the week before Christmas may have limited shelf life in 2022 as central banks will taper their monetary stimulus.

In Europe, London and Paris will shut around midday today, while Franfurt, Milan and Madrid are closed. UK and France’s stock futures were last down 0.3% and 0.1% respectively.

Yesterday’s U.S. data also reminds investors that the economy is strong, while the PCE — the Fed’s favourite inflation metric — rose 4.7% In November, setting its most significant year on year increase since February 1989.

(Stefano Rebaudo)


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