European stocks higher…new Omicron vax study
TOKYO (AP) – European stocks are higher today after a day of steep losses in Asia. Markets are waiting to hear from Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell after a two-day policy meeting. Other factors adding to uncertainty are the possibility of conflict between Russia and Ukraine and concern over coronavirus outbreaks. On Monday, a late buying spree pushed the benchmark S&P 500 index to a 0.3% gain after pulling it out of so-called correction territory – a drop of 10% or more from its recent high.
UNDATED (AP) – Pfizer has begun a study comparing its original COVID-19 vaccine with doses specially tweaked to match the omicron variant. Pfizer and its partner BioNTech announced the study today. COVID-19 vaccine makers have been updating their shots in case global health authorities decide a change is needed. The Pfizer study will include 1,420 healthy adults. Most already are vaccinated and will get boosters of the omicron-based vaccine or the original version.
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) – A key part of President Joe Biden’s plans to fight major ransomware attacks and digital espionage campaigns has been languishing for more than eight months. Biden signed an executive order in May that would create a Cyber Safety Review Board, molded after the National Transportation Safety Board. But the board still hasn’t been set up. Some supporters of the new board say the delay could hurt national security. The supporters also note growing concerns of a potential conflict with Russia over Ukraine that could involve nation-state cyberattacks.
BERLIN (AP) – A closely watched survey shows that business confidence in Germany, Europe’s biggest economy, has picked up unexpectedly after a six-month slide. The Ifo institute says its monthly confidence increased to 95.7 points in January from 94.8 in December. Economists had forecast another slight dip to 94.5. The index was led higher by much-improved expectations for the next six months.
SUBANG, Malaysia (AP) – New low-cost Malaysian carrier, SKS Airways, took to the skies today with short-haul flights to holiday island resorts as domestic travel rebounds after months of lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic last year. SKS launched its maiden flight from the smaller Subang airport near Kuala Lumpur to Pangkor, a northern tax-free island, becoming the first carrier to fly there. It will also fly to northeastern Redang island, a popular scuba-diving haven, and southern Tioman island using 19-seater Twin Otter turboprop aircraft. Despite the modest start, director Rohman Ahmad said SKS aims to expand regionally to Southeast Asia and southern China in the long-run.