Asian stock markets follow Wall St up as omicron fears ease | Health and Fitness

BEIJING (AP) — Asian stock markets rose Friday after Wall Street hit a new high as fears of the coronavirus’s omicron variant eased.

Tokyo, Hong Kong and Sydney advanced. Shanghai declined.

Wall Street’s benchmark S&P 500 index rose 0.6% on Thursday in the last U.S. trading session before Christmas.

Investor anxiety has mounted as omicron spread but moderated after authorities said it might cause less severe illness. President Joe Biden called for more vaccinations and testing but announced no plans for travel restrictions.

Omicron looks like a “short-term disruption” instead of a “destructive headwind that knocks the economy off its course,” Edward Moya of Oanda said in a report. “The U.S. economic recovery in 2022 still looks very strong.”

The Shanghai Composite Index lost 0.8% to 3,615.03 while the Nikkei 225 in Tokyo gained less than 0.1% to 28,821.35. The Hang Seng in Hong Kong advanced 0.1% to 23,222.74.

The Kospi in Seoul added 0.6% to 3,017.27 and Sydney’s S&P-ASX 200 was 0.5% higher at 7,425.30.

New Zealand and Southeast Asian markets also advanced. Singapore was closed for Christmas.