Stock futures move higher after Friday’s big sell-off, investors monitor omicron Covid variant

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A trader on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), on Thursday, Nov. 18, 2021.

Michael Nagle | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Stock futures moved higher in overnight trading Sunday following Friday’s big sell-off as investors monitor the latest developments related to the Covid omicron variant.

Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 243 points, or 0.7%. S&P 500 futures added 0.96% and Nasdaq 100 futures rose 1.19%.

Stocks are coming off a holiday-shortened session Friday in which the Dow posted its worst day since October 2020. The Dow was down 905 points, or 2.5%. The S&P 500 tumbled 2.3% and the Nasdaq Composite slipped 2.2%. The three major indexes were negative for the week.

“The pandemic and COVID variants remain one of the biggest risks to markets, and are likely to continue to inject volatility over the next year(s). It’s hard to say at this point how lasting or impactful this latest variant will be for markets,” Keith Lerner, co-chief investment officer at Truist Advisory Services, said in a note Friday.

The World Health Organization on Friday labeled the omicron strain a “variant of concern.” While scientists continue to research the variant, omicron’s large number of mutations has raised alarm. Preliminary evidence suggests the strain has an increased risk of reinfection, according to the WHO.

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The variant was first reported to the WHO from South Africa and has been found in the U.K., Israel, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Italy, Australia and Hong Kong, but not yet in the U.S. Many countries, including the U.S., moved to restrict travel from southern Africa.

Vaccine makers have announced measures to investigate omicron with testing already underway. While it remains to be seen how omicron responds to current vaccines or whether new formulations are required, Moderna’s Chief Medical Officer Paul Burton said Sunday the vaccine maker could roll out a reformulated vaccine against the omicron variant early next year.

On top of Covid developments, investors are also anticipating key economic data released this week.

The November jobs report on Friday is expected to show solid jobs growth. Economists surveyed by Dow Jones expect 581,000 jobs added in November.

The Institute of Supply Management manufacturing survey is released Wednesday and economists also expect strong results.