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Omicron Covid variant, bitcoin volatility watched

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LONDON — European stocks moved higher on Monday as investors continue to monitor developments around the omicron Covid variant and bitcoin volatility.

The pan-European Stoxx 600 added 0.7% in early trade, with oil and gas stocks climbing 1.4% to lead gains as all sectors and major bourses entered positive territory.

European markets made a positive start to the trading week on Monday morning, although the picture is more mixed at a global level.

Stocks in Asia-Pacific dropped on Monday as investors monitored bitcoin prices after they fell sharply over the weekend. Meanwhile, oil prices jumped during early Asia trade, rising more than 2% in Asia trading hours after mostly falling last week on Covid uncertainty and the OPEC+ plan to increase output in January.

Stateside, stock futures were higher even after a losing week on Wall Street as investors ditched equities amid concerns over the new omicron Covid variant and the Federal Reserve’s move to tighten policy. At least 15 U.S. states have detected the omicron coronavirus variant now.

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The heavy selling in technology stocks last Friday extended to cryptocurrencies with bitcoin prices volatile throughout the weekend. Bitcoin traded around $57,000 on Friday morning, but by Saturday had fallen to around $43,000. By Sunday the world’s largest cryptocurrency had recovered some of its losses, but it still traded below the key $50,000 level; it is currently trading around $49,058.

On the data front in Europe, German industrial orders plunged 6.9% month-on-month on October, well below the consensus forecast of a 0.5% decline, as weak foreign demand weighed heavy,

The euro zone Sentix index for December is also due Monday, along with a first estimate of Greece’s gross domestic product in the third quarter.

There was little by way of significant share price moves in early trade. British polymer company Victrex added 4% to lead the Stoxx 600 after its full-year earnings report, while Just Eat Takeaway slid 3.5% to the bottom of the index after Bernstein downgraded the stock to “market-perform” from “outperform.”

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— CNBC’s Pippa Stevens and Weizhen Tan contributed to this market report.



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