Top international headlines: Omicron shows its upside and downside

Global airlines continue to face virus headwinds, the US threatens economic sanctions on Russia and more.

The US takes a closer look at crypto-currencies, as it calls on Russia to pull back troops from the Ukrainian border or face the possibility of economic sanctions. Meanwhile, the latest SARS-CoV-2 variant, Omicron, wreaks havoc with international airlines and JPMorgan Chase says it may offer investors a chance to position for a trend reversal. Meanwhile, Nissan announces its decision to invest billions into the electric vehicle market.

JPMorgan Chase see upside in omicron
The recent market turmoil caused by the emergence of the Omicron virus strain may offer investors a chance to position for a trend reversal in reopening and commodity trades, according to strategists at JPMorgan Chase & Co.

The emergence of the new virus strain has roiled markets in recent days, with countries around the world stepping up travel restrictions, reports Bloomberg.

US threatens economic sanctions on Russia
The US has called on Russia to pull back its troops from the Ukrainian border, warning that a Russian invasion would provoke sanctions that would hit Moscow harder than any imposed until now.

"Should Russia follow the path of confrontation, when it comes to Ukraine, we've made clear that we will respond resolutely, including with a range of high impact economic measures that we have refrained from pursuing in the past," US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said.

Russia has previously blunted the impact of sanctions imposed over its invasion of Crimea by reducing its borrowings on foreign financial markets and maintaining large currency and gold reserves, reports Reuters.

Global airlines face virus headwinds
Fitch Ratings has lowered its global passenger traffic forecasts for 2021 and 2022, saying the emergence of new coronavirus variants highlight the likelihood that conditions would remain volatile for airlines.

Global airlines are bracing for more volatility that could force them to juggle schedules and destinations at short notice and rely more on domestic markets where possible, analysts say.

Crypto-currencies under the spotlight in the US
Executives of major US cryptocurrency firms have been called to testify before a congressional committee, as politicians flag the need for more scrutiny of cryptocurrencies.

The anonymity of paying using cryptocurrencies means they have been favoured for criminal activities such as drug dealing and ransomware attacks. However, their supporters say the view that they are predominantly for circumventing the law is outdated and that innovation in this area offers huge potential, reports the BBC.

Nissan sees EV as pillar to growth
Nissan Motor will invest $17.6 billion (R281,08 billion) over the next five years to electrify more of its line-up and turn battery-powered cars into a pillar of its long-term growth.

Nissan, on track to return to annual profit for the first time in three years, is seeking to use the know-how it amassed as an early entrant into the EV market as a foundation for growth. The Yokohama-based carmaker was an early leader, releasing the world’s first mass-produced EV in 2010, reports Bloomberg.