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Stock futures rose on Friday to extend gains after Thursday’s recovery rally, with an initial wave of concerns over the economic impacts of the Omicron variant at least temporarily easing. Investors also digested the Labor Department’s November jobs report, which came in mixed compared to Wall Street’s elevated expectations.
Contracts on the S&P 500, Dow and Nasdaq traded higher. Volatility from earlier this week further subsided, and the CBOE Volatility index (^VIX) dipped further to below 27. The 10-year Treasury yield edged lower to near 1.4%.
The moves came following the release of the Labor Department’s November jobs report, which showed a disappointing rate of hiring for the month even as the unemployment rate fell to a fresh pandemic-era low. Payroll gains came in at 210,000, or less than half the 550,000 consensus economists were expecting. The jobless rate fell to 4.2%, dipping more than anticipated from October’s 4.6%.
Stocks’ move higher on Thursday came as market participants digested recent headlines on the Omicron variant, including the discovery of multiple cases in the U.S. While vaccine-makers and epidemiologists have still been assessing the new variant’s transmissibility and severity of infection, investors have at least temporarily eased back from peak levels of concern.
“The markets … have been pricing in, really, a worst-case scenario,” Jim Smiegiel, SEI chief investment officer, told Yahoo Finance Live.
“I think the market is now switching gears a little bit and perhaps lessening the intensity on the potential for negative outcomes,” he added. “The big issue still remains more about the world government’s reaction to the variant and what that means from a lockdown perspective. And that’s what the market is still kind of struggling with at this stage.”
Others have struck an even more optimistic tone, suggesting the economic impact of the Omicron variant will ultimately prove less drastic than initially feared.
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