Bitcoin extends its 3-day gain above $31,000

Crypto investors flee more volatile altcoins

Bitcoin stretched a winning streak on Monday, with institutional investors recently pouring money into the world’s most valuable cryptocurrency, according to data from CoinShares, as they navigate through the market’s so-called crypto winter.

Bitcoin gained for a third session in a row and hit an intraday high of $31,680.37, according to CoinGecko, marking the highest price since June 1.

The virtual coin, which had a market cap of $597 billion, last week saw $125.9 million of  inflows last week, bringing total inflows for 2022 to $506 million, digital asset management company CoinShares said in a weekly update.

“Altcoins,” meanwhile, “saw virtually no inflows last week highlighting investors are flocking to the relative safety of Bitcoin,” said CoinShares.

Saudi oil giant Aramco’s first-quarter profits surge 80%

Saudi Aramco overtook Apple as the world’s most valuable company

Oil giant Saudi Aramco said Sunday its profits soared more than 80% in the first three months of the year, as the state-backed company cashes in on the volatility in global energy markets and surging oil prices following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The bumper first-quarter earnings by the firm formally known as the Saudi Arabian Oil Co., which overtook Apple as the world’s most valuable company last week, show a record net income of $39.5 billion, up from $21.7 billion during the same period last year. The figure marks the oil group’s highest quarterly profit since 2019, when the Saudi government, which owns 98% of the company, listed a sliver of its worth on Riyadh’s Tadawul stock exchange in what was then the world’s largest-ever initial public offering.

In a statement, Aramco’s chief executive attributed the spike in profits to rising prices as well as the kingdom’s increase in production, along with allies in the group known as OPEC Plus. He also appeared to suggest that the disruption from the war in Ukraine had underscored the vital role of oil and gas companies like Aramco.

S&P 500 hits record close as Omicron fears ebb

Major indexes climb for 3rd straight session

Wall Street’s main indexes posted solid gains for a third straight session on Thursday, with the S&P 500 marking a record-high close, as encouraging developments gave investors more ease about the economic impact of the Omicron coronavirus variant.

Stocks ended the holiday-shortened week on a positive note, lifting sentiment heading into Christmas. Gains were broad among S&P 500 sectors, led by consumer discretionary (.SPLRCD) and industrials (.SPLRCI), which both rose about 1.2%.

Vaccine makers AstraZeneca Plc (AZN.L) and Novavax Inc (NVAX.O) said their shots protected against Omicron as UK data suggested it may cause proportionally fewer hospital cases than the Delta variant, though public health experts warned the battle against COVID-19 was far from over.

The arrival of Omicron has helped ratchet up market volatility for much of the last month of 2021, which has been a strong year for equities.

Omicron variant and inflation, 2 concerns of the week

This week, investors are set to focus on updates on the Omicron variant and inflation. Concerns around both of these factors had stirred up volatility across markets last week.  The two are intertwined. Many have feared that an additional wave of the coronavirus could spur another slowdown in consumer mobility and spending that hits economic activity and corporate earnings. Vaccine-makers and other researchers have yet to determine the extent of Omicron’s transmissibility and severity of illness caused by the variant, or whether it is at least partially resistant to current vaccines.

And yet despite these virus-related fears, monetary policymakers have signaled they are ready to pull back on monetary policy stimulus that had helped support the economy for more than a year-and-a-half during the pandemic. That’s come as inflationary trends have proven stickier than previously expected, given tighter monetary policies could help ease elevated prices.

Investors are set to receive an updated look at the state of inflation later this week, with the Labor Department releasing its November Consumer Price Index (CPI) on Friday. Though the Federal Reserve has typically looked to the core personal consumption expenditures (PCE) index as its preferred gauge of inflation, the CPI has served as another critical datapoint underscoring the extent of price increases impacting Main Street consumers.