Asia a tad higher and US futures a little softer

30/12/2021 Asian stocks were mixed earlier in the wake of another Wall Street all-time high on light volumes in the final days of the year. China’s CSI 300 index climbed on expectations of more steps to bolster economic growth amid an extension of some personal income-tax breaks and calls for policy easing. MSCI Inc.’s overall Asia-Pacific index edged lower. U.S. equity futures are slightly lower but European contracts climbed. The S&P 500 eked out a gain to hit its 70th record close of the year overnight.

Locally, the JSE closed at a record high while the rand fell for a second straight day amid mixed international markets, with concern heightened in some areas over the rapid spread of the Omicron variant of Covid-19. The JSE was led higher yesterday by the industrials index as heavyweights on the market accounted for the biggest gains. The all share closed up 1.1% to 73,238 points, a new high, while the top 40 added 1.14%. The previous record for the all share was set on December 7, and today’s was its first close above 73,000 points. Volumes were dismal again with just R 8.2 bln tin turn-over.
• Rapid Tests May Miss Some Omicron Cases, FDA Says: Virus Update.
• Transnet S. Africa 1H Export Coal Transportation Falls 4.6M Tons.
• South African Covid-19 Hospitalizations at 9,038; 7.5% in ICU.
• Anglo American Confirms Preliminary Talks With Vale on Iron Ore.
• Mauritius Extends Travel Ban From S. Africa.
• SA still without a proper border fence at Beitbridge as controversial project drags on.
2pm: Nov. Monthly Budget Balance, est. -10.3b, prior -36.8b
• European indexes looked set to open mostly higher as holiday-thinned trading continued in the region. Global investors are looking for a Santa Claus rally to close out a year of solid returns. The FTSE and the DAX are on track to see gains of 15% for this year, while the French CAC is close to a 30% gain.
Overnight in the US, the S&P 500 advanced 0.14% to its 70th record close of the year. This is the second highest number of record closes for the benchmark index during a calendar year, trailing just 1995′s 77 record closing highs. The Dow rose 90 points, or 0.25%, to also close at a record — its first since November. The 30-stock benchmark saw its sixth straight positive session. The Nasdaq Composite, however, declined 0.1%. Chip stocks came under pressure, with AMD, Xilinx and Nvidia all declining at least 1%. Travel-related stocks also slid amid ongoing Covid-19 concerns, with the NYSE Arca Airline Index dipping 2.5%.
Asian markets are slightly higher with the Nikkei bucking the trend and trading down 0.40%, MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan hovered 0.05% higher.
On the commodity front Gold is 0.36% lower while Oil is flat.