European markets closed lower after another volatile session on Friday, wrapping up a tumultuous week following the discovery of the new omicron Covid-19 variant. The pan-European Stoxx 600 provisionally closed down about 0.8%, having fluctuated either side of the flatline earlier in the day. For the week, the benchmark is down more than 1%. Mining stocks led the losses on Friday, slumping 2.8%, as almost all sectors and major bourses dipped into negative territory.
US stocks dropped on Friday, after a disappointing November jobs report, as the market wrapped up a roller-coaster week driven by Covid omicron variant concerns. Technology stocks were among the most notable losers on Friday as Tesla fell 6.4% and Zoom Video declined nearly 4.1%. DocuSign cratered 42.2% after the company issued fourth-quarter sales guidance that was lower than what analysts expected. Meanwhile, November’s jobs report showed slower-than-expected job creation last month. Nonfarm payrolls increased by just 210,000 for the month, well below the 573,000 jobs predicted by economists polled by Dow Jones.
Stocks in Asia-Pacific dropped earlier today, while investors monitored bitcoin prices after they fell sharply over the weekend. Alibaba shares in Hong Kong fell nearly 8% in early trade. Four new stocks — including Chinese technology giants JD and Netease — were added to the benchmark Hang Seng index. The latest update increases the number of stocks in the main index to 64, from the current 60 stocks. Troubled Chinese property developer Evergrande will be removed from the China Enterprises index.
Trump social media firm says it has raised $1bn
Donald Trump’s new social media firm says it has entered into agreements to raise $1bn (£755m)from investors ahead of a planned stock market listing. The Trump Media & Technology Group is working to launch a social media app called Truth Social early next year. It comes as Mr Trump remains banned from Twitter and Facebook following the attack on the US Capitol in January.
“$1bn sends an important message to Big Tech that censorship and political discrimination must end,” he said. “As our balance sheet expands, Trump Media & Technology Group will be in a stronger position to fight back against the tyranny of Big Tech.” Mr Trump announced plans to launch Truth Social earlier this year, saying it would allow conversation “without discrimination on the basis of political ideology”.
Boots owner to explore sale of UK’s biggest high street chemist chain
The parent company of Boots, Britain’s biggest high street chemist, is to explore a sale of the business next year that could value it at well over £5bn. Walgreens Boots Alliance (WBA) is lining up Goldman Sachs, the Wall Street bank, to advise it on a review of options that could result in new owners for the 172-year-old health and beauty retailer. City sources said on Friday evening that the process would be exploratory and might not ultimately lead to WBA disposing of Boots. Spinning the chain off into a separately listed company could also be a possibility, they added. A full-blown auction of Boots would be among the most significant deals involving a high street chain for many year.