Daily Market Color

Santa > Omicron

While the recent surge in the Omicron variant has led several economists to downwardly revise their Q1 GDP growth figures, it was not enough to stop the S&P 500 from notching yet another record close today. Despite lower trading volume during the first session of this holiday shortened week, the S&P 500 notched its fourth consecutive day of gains – buoyed by a Mastercard Inc. report which displayed a robust 8.5% increase in retail sales from November 1 – December 24 this year, driven by e-commerce.

Rates hold steady. Yields/swap rates held within a tight range today, the short end of the curve rising 1-2bps following a soft Treasury auction of two-year notes, while longer-term rates ticked a couple of basis points lower. From an economic data perspective, there will be limited market-moving events on the calendar this week– home price data tomorrow, pending home sales on Wednesday, and jobless claims on Thursday.

How bad has the Omicron impact been?

  • Over the past week, the average number of COVID cases has jumped 55% to 205k per day
  • In December, COVID-related hospitalizations climbed 31%, overwhelming hospitals in several states
  • Four straight days of canceled flights – more than 1,000 today alone as airlines battle staff shortages

Assisting with the third bullet point above, this afternoon the CDC shortened its isolation time for those infected with COVID to 5 days (previously 10 days).

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