FTSE 100 collapses over Omicron concerns – business live | Business

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Investors have their eyes on one thing this morning: just how bad the omicron coronavirus is going to be for economies around the world. UK and EU stock market futures suggest traders are shaken: the FTSE 100 is on track to decline 1.9% at the opening, while Dax in Germany benchmark and The French Cac 40 are set for reductions of 2.4% each.

The week before Christmas is usually quite a strange affair in financial markets as investors lock down their trading terminals and put their feet up. The past two years have been somewhat different. Omicron is the ghost of Christmas past after last year’s holiday closures when the delta coronavirus variant swept the world.

Asian markets set the tone: the Hong Kong Hang Seng index fell 2.2%, while the Chinese SSE Composite index, which covers Shanghai-listed stocks, fell 1.1% and the general index Japan’s Topix fell 2.2%.

There were no signs in the UK of further restrictions – but that hasn’t stopped a large part of the population from self-confining in order to save themselves from a Christmas period of self-isolation. Pubs and restaurants say their business has evaporated as the England batting team.

Christmas pudding blankets have been placed on large round bollards in High Wycombe town center. Photograph: Maureen McLean / REX / Shutterstock

Over the weekend, we saw no action from the UK government to help hotel companies whose Christmas trade season has been destroyed – although Health Secretary Sajid Javid has left behind the possibility of restrictions to come yesterday.

Calls for support have poured in, including so far this morning from restaurant chain bosses Franco Manca, chain of pub Green King, and the boss of the City of London Company, who runs London’s central business district, which already looks like the ghost of the coming Christmas.

Instead, the government is waging a new battle against its apparent habit of holding rallies during shutdowns. Here’s the exclusive Guardian photo that sparked the latest round of criticism:

Deputy Prime Minister and Secretary of State for Justice Dominic Raab said this morning that the wine and cheese evening was work.

And let’s not forget that the government under pressure also faced the resignation of the man who had been tasked with renegotiating key elements of the UK’s trade deal with its biggest trading partner, the EU. Foreign Secretary Liz Truss will take over talks on the Northern Ireland Protocol, which Boris Johnson signed just two years ago to precipitate a Brexit deal through.

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