Good morning, and welcome to our rolling coverage of the world economy, the financial markets, the eurozone and business.
The world’s biggest tour operator Tui said it expects travel to bounce back to pre-crisis levels next summer, as it posted a full-year loss of €2.4bn. However it said it was close to breaking even in the fourth quarter, and that it was almost fully booked for the winter quarter.
Tui chief executive Fritz Joussen said:
It is still too early to make a real forecast for the 2022 summer season. But we are optimistic that tourism will be able to recover to 2019 levels next summer. We want to, we can and we will find our way back to economic strength.
The programme of the first financial quarter of 2022 is already almost fully sold. This means that we are currently achieving 69% of the pre-crisis level. We expect summer 2022 to reach a largely normalised booking level.
He said that the pandemic has caused holidaymakers to book “much later and at shorter notice” but that next summer is looking “very encouraging in all Tui markets”.
Global stock markets rallied yesterday as concerns about the severity of the Omicron Covid variant and its impact on economies faded. There was also news that GSK’s antibody treatment works against the full combination of Omicron mutations; the US passed legislation to pave the way for a debt ceiling increase; and the US Federal Reserve’s hawkish tilt has been digested and priced in by now.
The Nasdaq jumped 3%, the biggest one-day gain since March, the S&P 500 rose 2% and the Dow Jones rose 1.4%. In Europe, the German French and Italian indices were all up more than 2% while the FTSE 100 index in London closed 1.49% higher. The UK index recouped all of its post-Thanksgiving Omicron losses and closed at its highest level since 15 November.
The optimistic mood has spread to Asia, where Japan’s Nikkei gained 1.4%, the Shanghai Composite Index is up 1.18% while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng is flat.
Trading in shares of embattled Chinese developer Kaisa Group Holdings has been suspended on the Hong Kong stock exchange, prompting fresh nerves about the financial stability of the country’s massive property sector. Evergrande, the biggest property developer, is teetering on the brink of collapse.
The suspension on Wednesday comes after Kaisa was reportedly unlikely to meet a dollar bond repayment of $400m (£301m) by the deadline of Tuesday night in the US, Reuters said, citing a source with direct knowledge of the matter.
The Chinese government sparked a crisis within the property industry when it launched a drive last year to curb excessive debt among real estate firms as well as rampant consumer speculation.
Is it too much optimism? asks Ipek Ozkardeskaya, senior analyst at the bank Swissquote.
The news is not all rosy, but the perception is very optimistic, and that supports the back-to-back strong gains. In theory, such strong gains are sign of instability and should be taken with caution, however the good news is that the volatility is easing, and the VIX index dropped 20% yesterday, meaning that the latest fears could slowly begin fading.
Yet, the US inflation data due Friday remains an important threat to the market mood, and could encourage some consolidation and perhaps some profit taking into the critical data.
Japan released figures that showed its economy shrank faster than initially reported between July and September, at an annualised rate of 3.6% rather than the previously estimated 3% contraction.
European stock markets have opened slightly lower after the strong gains seen in the last two days, with Germany’s Dax down 0.2%, France’s CAC down 0.1%, Italy down 0.2% and Spain’s Ibex 0.4% lower. Only the FTSE 100 index in London is 0.18% ahead at 7,352, a gain of 12 points.
Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets UK, says the “unbridled optimism” seen in the last two days after last week’s panic in the markets will fade as Europe is still battling increases in Delta infections, which is likely to hamper the recovery across Germany, Austria and the Netherlands where restrictions and lockdowns have been reimposed.
These concerns over Delta were acknowledged earlier this week by the IMF who warned that they might have to cut their GDP forecasts for the eurozone when they publish new estimates in January.
- 8.15am GMT: ECB President Christine Lagarde speaks
- 12pm GMT: US MBA Mortgage applications for week to 3 December
- 3pm GMT: Bank of Canada interest rate decision