Markets have got it about right on Omicron so far | Larry Elliott

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Amateur virology is all the rage in the City. Analysts who would normally be more at home inputting some seasonally adjusted labour market data into a spreadsheet now find they can’t explain what is likely to happen to the economy without understanding how viruses spread.

When news emerged of the Omicron variant of Covid-19 last week it was the signal for financial markets everywhere to take a tumble. That was an entirely rational response: stock markets were not prepared for a potentially dangerous new strain of the virus and the sensible thing to do was to mark down share prices.

Over the weekend the sense has grown that things might not turn out so bad after all, so share prices have regained a bit of the ground they lost on Friday. The prospect of central banks delaying action to combat rising inflation probably helped sentiment a bit.

The fact is, of course, that nobody knows for sure what sort of threat Omicron poses. Scientists are saying it will…

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