European stocks slipped on Monday as traders reacted to developments regarding omicron covid variant and looked ahead to monetary policy decisions by some of the world’s biggest central banks. The pan-European Stoxx 600 closed 0.4% lower, with most sectors and major bourses in negative territory. In Britain, the Covid threat level was raised on Sunday. Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned of a “tidal wave” of Covid cases as a result of Omicron. From this week, all adults in England will also be offered booster vaccinations.
The S&P 500 fell back on Monday as investors remained cautious about how the Omicron variation will affect the economy and what the Federal Reserve will announce on Wednesday. Reopening stocks such as airlines and cruise lines were among the biggest losers Monday. On the upside, shares of Moderna rose 5.8% after the White House’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, called Covid booster shots “optimal care” but said the definition of fully vaccinated would not change.
Chinese stocks slipped this morning, following other losses in Asia-Pacific markets, as the Omicron variety came back into focus. Meanwhile, bitcoin prices continued to fall after some losses overnight. Shares of Chinese social media giant Weibo fell nearly 8% as China’s cyberspace regulator fined the company’s operator three million yuan ($471,151). The stock has lost more than 10% since its trading debut in Hong Kong last week. Meanwhile, Chinese telecom operator China Mobile announced in a filing that it has received approval from regulators for a secondary listing in Shanghai.
NatWest fined £265m after cash laundered in bin bags
NatWest has been fined £265m after admitting it failed to prevent the laundering of nearly £400m by one firm. A gold trading firm suspected of money laundering had deposited £700,000 cash in black bin bags at a NatWest branch, a court heard on Monday. A criminal gang deposited huge sums of cash in about 50 branches, prosecutors at Britain’s financial watchdog said. NatWest deeply regrets failing to properly monitor the client. It is the first time a financial institution has been prosecuted by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) under anti-money laundering laws in the UK.
Elon Musk is Time’s ‘Person of the Year 2021’
Tesla CEO Elon Musk has been named Time magazine’s “Person of the Year” for 2021. In that year, his electric car company became the world’s most valuable automaker and his rocket company rose to the edge of space with an all-civilian crew. Musk is also the founder and CEO of SpaceX and runs chip startup Neuralink and infrastructure company The Boring Company. Tesla’s market value has soared to more than $1 trillion this year, making it more valuable than Ford Motor and General Motors combined. According to the magazine, the “Person of the Year” stands for someone “who has most impacted the news or our lives, for better or worse.