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Dow rises 646 points as markets shake off Omicron fears

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Dow rises 646 points as markets shake off Omicron fears
The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 646 points on Monday as markets rose broadly after Dr. Anthony Fauci allayed some concerns about the Omicron COVID-19 variant over the weekend. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

Dec. 6 (UPI) -- U.S. markets surged on Monday as investors shook off concerns about the Omicron COVID-19 variant.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 646.95 points, or 1.87%, while the S&P 500 rose 1.17% and the Nasdaq Composite closed the day up 0.93% after all three indexes closed lower on Friday.

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Travel and hospitality stocks helped to lead the rise amid positive sentiment surrounding virus fears as United Airlines, American Airlines, Carnival Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean all rose about 8%.

Shares of Wynn resorts also gained 6.01%, while Marriott rose 4.48% and Hilton gained 4.01%. Meanwhile, Expedia stock gained 6.74% and Booking Holdings increased 5.34%

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Other stocks that would benefit from economic reopening, such as energy and industrials, also got a boost with Boeing gaining 3.72%, General Electric rising 3.54%, Caterpillar increasing 1.76% and Chevron climbing 1.59%.

The market turnaround came after Dr. Anthony Fauci on Sunday indicated that infections from the Omicron variant may not be more severe than those caused by other variants.

"Thus far it's too early to really make any definitive statements about it, thus far it does not look like there's a great degree of severity to it, but we've really got to be careful before we make any determinations that it is less severe or really doesn't really cause any severe illness comparable to Delta," Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told CNN's State of the Union. "But thus far the signals have been encouraging regarding the severity."

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U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky also said that while Omicron cases are likely to rise after having been detected in 16 U.S. states, most infections in the country are still caused by the Delta variant.

The Nasdaq lagged behind the other major indexes as component Moderna plummeted 13.49% and tech stocks dropped with Advanced Micro Devices falling 3.44% and Nvidia dropping 2.14%.

Bitcoin fell 0.24% after falling more than 20% on Saturday as part of a sharp selloff in cryptocurrencies over the weekend.

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Investors have cited both Omicron fears and concerns about the Federal Reserve's plans to quickly taper its pandemic asset purchases after Fed Chair Jerome Powell said last week it could be appropriate to "wrap up [its] purchases a few months early."

"For the Fed, the decision to taper more quickly is complicated -- motivated more by inflation than by economic momentum and the labor market. A new wave of infections could certainly slow recovery, but it could also impact prices," Rubeela Farooqi of High Frequency Economics wrote in a note, according to Yahoo Finance.

"If the variant results in renewed and widespread restrictions -- as it already has in some countries -- then supply chain disruptions are likely to intensify, putting even more upward pressure on price metrics."

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