Good morning, and welcome to our live, rolling coverage of business, economics, the eurozone and financial markets.
The start of the week before Christmas brought a troubled trading day yesterday, with falls across Europe and Wall Street.
However, things are looking a little brighter on this dark morning on the shortest day of the year.
Asian stocks moved higher on Tuesday, and European shares are tipped to open higher, with some buyers on the lookout for Christmas bargains, although volumes remained thin just ahead of the festive break.
London’s FTSE is currently tipped to open 1.3% higher, with Germany’s DAX expected to rise by 1.5% at the open. It’s a similar story for pan-European Stoxx 50 futures, which are trading 1.5% higher.
Despite the muted cheer, plenty of worries remain about the threat of the Covid Omicron variant to the global economic recovery. The new variant, which is highly transmissible, is sweeping across the world and many nations are on mulling further restrictions and social distancing measures as a way of containing the number of cases.
Overnight, New Zealand announced it was pushing back the staggered reopening of its international border until the end of February, when quarantine-free travel will be reintroduced for New Zealand citizens and residents in Australia.
In the past few days, the Netherlands has gone back into lockdown. Germany has ruled out such a measure before Christmas, but the country’s health minister warned that the advancing wave of infections could not be stopped.
All of this is having an impact on economic sentiment.
In Germany, Europe’s largest economy, news just out shows that consumer morale is expected to dive further at the start of next year, as Omicron clouds darken the horizon. More on that shortly…
Meanwhile in the UK, public borrowing figures have just been released. The government borrowed a total of £17.4bn in November, which came in some way higher than the average forecast of £16bn.
This data comes as the chancellor Rishi Sunak is facing mounting calls for help from businesses – especially struggling hospitality and leisure venues – who have seen trade decimated as fearful customers have stayed at home.
According to Bethany Beckett, UK economist at Capital Economics, the November figures
“will be unwelcome news for the chancellor, who is once again facing the prospect of tighter COVID-19 restrictions and renewed government support to affected sectors.”