REUTERS WORLD NEWS: Muted New Year Celebrations, Omicron Optimism, Russia Tests New Cruise Missile, More

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The Reuters Daily Briefing

Friday, December 31, 2021

by Linda Noakes

Here’s what you need to know.

South Africa says its COVID fourth wave has peaked, Russia test-fires new hypersonic missiles, and stocks see in the New Year near record highs after a banner 2021

Today’s biggest stories

A barber colors the digits of the number 2022 after cutting a man’s hair to welcome the upcoming new year, in Ahmedabad, India, December 31, 2021. REUTERS/Amit Dave

  • Twenty twenty-one is slinking off with farewell celebrations mostly muffled by the pandemic.
  • But good news from South Africa – the first country to pronounce itself past its Omicron wave – has brought new hope for a joyous New Year.
  • As the New Year moves from East to West, with New Zealand already into 2022 without the official fireworks in Auckland, Australia is promising to open the global celebration in vintage style, with its usual spectacular pyrotechnics reflected in the harbor below the Sydney Opera House.
  • Fireworks were also called off over Paris’s Arc de Triomphe, London’s Big Ben and the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur.
  • The golden ball is due to drop at New York’s Times Square, but the crowd shouting out the countdown of the year’s exit will be a quarter the usual size, masked up, socially distanced and with vaccine papers in hand.
  • U.S. health experts urged Americans to prepare for severe disruptions in coming weeks as the rising wave of COVID-19 cases led by the Omicron variant threatens hospitals, schools and other sectors impacting their daily lives.
  • Hong Kong’s health officials said the Omicron variant has made its way past some of the world’s toughest COVID 19 restrictions, with the city reporting its first cases outside its strict quarantine system.
  • South Africa has lifted a midnight to 4 a.m. curfew on people’s movement with immediate effect, believing the country has passed the peak of its fourth COVID-19 wave driven by Omicron.

Rohingya refugees arrive by boat at a port in Lhokseumawe, Aceh, Indonesia, December 31, 2021. REUTERS/Hidayatullah Tahjuddin


Stock markets dipped in thin trading but are set to see in the New Year with double-digit gains for 2021 while oil prices hovered near $80 a barrel following their biggest annual rise since 2009.

Oil analysts have lowered their price forecasts for 2022 as the Omicron coronavirus variant poses headwinds to recovering fuel demand and risks a supply glut as producers pump more oil, a Reuters poll shows.

Global dealmaking is set to maintain its scorching pace next year, after a historic year for merger and acquisition activity that was fueled largely by easy availability of cheap financing and booming stock markets. Global M&A volumes topped $5 trillion for the first time ever, comfortably eclipsing the previous record of $4.55 trillion set in 2007, Dealogic data showed.

A U.S. appeals court revived litigation accusing a slew of large banks of conspiring to rig the Libor interest rate benchmark, including during the 2008 financial crisis, to boost profits at investors’ expense and make the banks appear healthier than they were.

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