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Markets close out the year on a positive note – Zurich Weekly – Jan 4th 2022

Most major markets saw gains in the holiday shortened week, with the rally
bringing the major US markets into touching distance of an all-time high.
Despite rising global COVID cases as the Omicron variant took hold,
concerns about the potency of the variant began to dissipate and renewed
optimism was evident across markets. Whilst it was a light week for
economic updates, weekly US jobless claims fell again and are now close to
a 50 year low. Payment processing companies such as Mastercard reported
robust December spending, with consumer purchasing much higher than a
year ago. There are a number of key economic releases this week, including
the final US jobs numbers of 2021 and US PMI data.
In Europe, stocks were higher although there was similar negative headlines
in relation to COVID. A plethora of countries, including France and Italy
introduced further restrictions, with France’s banning of British road
passengers on the Eurostar, drawing the ire of lawmakers in Westminster.
The UK has stated that it will wait until this week to consider new restrictions.
New Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida received an economic boost as
Industrial Production grew by a record 7.2% (MoM) in November and whilst
the unemployment rate ticked up to 2.8%, it was due to more people entering
the workforce.
Last week Chinese lawmakers advanced plans to restrict overseas IPOs
from Chinese companies, as regulators tightened their grip on the countries
growing number of publicly listed companies. After a volatile year for
economic data, the final Chinese releases of the year PMI data rose more
than expected bringing the year to a close on a positive note