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Omicron, Vaccines, Cyber Monday & Stock Markets - 5 Things You Must Know

Stocks rebound as investors eye Omicron details; Pfizer and Moderna extend gains, aim for early 2022 vaccine tweaks; Powell and jobs data highlight quiet week for earnings and data and Cyber Monday shopping in focus after a solid, but not spectacular, Black Friday tally.

Here are five things you must know for Monday, November 29:

1. -- Stock Futures Rebound As Investors Eye Omicron Details

U.S. equity futures rebounded from their worst Black Friday session on record Monday, while oil prices surged and bond yields bumped higher, as investors clawed back losses and eyed details and developments from the nascent outbreak of the Omicron coronavirus variant in economies around the world.

With cases discovered in Europe, Africa and Asia, and reports that the newly-named variant might be resistant to current vaccine structures, the World Health Organization has named Omicron a 'variant of concern'  and governments around the world are closing borders and issuing new travel and business restrictions to tame its spread.

Early reports that symptoms could be milder than first anticipated added to market optimism, however, while investors look to any impact the outbreak may have on central bank policy as Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell testifies before the Senate Banking Committee on Tuesday. 

On Wall Street, futures contracts tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average are indicating a 250 point opening bell gain -- following Friday's 905 decline, the worst since October of 2020 -- while those linked to the S&P 500 are priced for a 44 point advance. Futures tied to the tech-focused Nasdaq Composite are indicating a 190 point gain at the start of trading as benchmark 10-year Treasury note yields edge higher, to 1.531%, in overnight trading.

2. --  Omicron Latest: Travel Restrictions and Case Discoveries

The World Health Organization cautioned Monday that it could take "several weeks" to assess the severity of the newly-discovered Omicron variant, although early reports suggest its symptoms may be milder than first anticipated.

The variant carries a spike protein -- the basis for infection -- that is vastly different to that which current vaccines are designed to neutralize, health authorities have said, and is mutating quickly. 

Cases thus far have been reported in Australia, Hong Kong, Israel, France, Italy, Germany, Denmark and the Netherlands, with Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, warning Sunday that a U.S. infection case is 'inevitable". 

Britain has called for an emergency meeting of G7 health officials for Monday, with President Joe Biden expected to give an update on the U.S. response effort later today. 

Travel restrictions, thus far, have largely focused on South Africa, the origin of the new variant, and neighboring countries, with a U.S ban on entry from those nations set to begin later this evening.  

3. --  Moderna Says New Vaccine Could be Ready in Early 2022

Morderna  (MRNA) - Get Free Report shares surged higher in pre-market trading as the drugmaker insisted it could develop a new vaccine capable of combating the new Omicron variant early in the new year 

Chief Medical Officer Paul Burton told the BBC Sunday that Omicron, first identified in South Africa, may not be affected by current vaccine structures, adding that it may take "a couple of weeks" before that can be determined.

“If we have to make a brand new vaccine, I think that’s going to be early 2022 before that’s really going to be available in large quantities,” Burton said.  

Pfizer's PFE German-based vaccine partner, BioNTech BNTX, meanwhile, said late Friday that data from lab tests, which are expected in about two weeks, "will provide more information about whether (Omicron) could be an escape variant that may require an adjustment of our vaccine if the variant spreads globally.'

Moderna shares were marked 9.3% higher in pre-market trading to indicate an opening bell price of $360.31 each while Pfizer jumped 1.1% to $54.60 each.

4. --  Week Ahead: Powell and Jobs Data Highlight

Jobs data will highlight a quiet calendar of economic releases and corporate earnings this week as the third quarter reporting season winds to a close and markets shift focus to any central bank policy response to the threat of the Omicron variant. 

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, as well as Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, could give voice to that focus when they testify Tuesday to the Senate Banking Committee on the Coronavirus and CARES Act in Washington

ADP's National Employment report will follow on Wednesday, with initial jobless claims expected at 8:30 am Eastern time Thursday ahead of Friday's November non-farm payroll report, which is expected to show the addition on 550,00 new jobs into the economy last month. 

On the earnings side, 10 companies will report this week, including Salesforce  (CRM) - Get Free Report, Snowflake  (SNOW) - Get Free Report, Dollar General  (DG) - Get Free Report, Kroger  (KR) - Get Free Report and Marvell  (MRVL) - Get Free Report.

Thus far, with 486 companies reporting, S&P 500 earnings are forecast to rise 42.4% from last year to a collective $453.1 billion, with fourth quarter estimates pointing to a 21.6% advance.   

5. --  Cyber Monday In Focus After Solid Black Friday

Retailers may be looking for a surge in online spending Monday to buttress solid, but not spectacular, Black Friday gains as shoppers appear content to spread their holiday season dollars over a longer period of time this year amid virus uncertainty and a lack of 'doorbuster' markdowns.  

Black Friday sales were estimated to have risen around 30% from 2020 levels, according to Mastercard SpendingPulse, with Adobe Analytics pegging the day's tally at between $8.8 billion and $9.2 billion.

The National Retail Federation expects more than 165 million people will visit brick-and-mortar stores, or shop online, over the Black Friday to Cyber Monday period, with Adobe Insights having estimated a $3.5 million per minute spending rate over Thanksgiving Day itself, with an $11.3 billion tally expected for Cyber Monday.