R&B artist Omarion keeps getting confused for the Omicron variant of COVID-19, but he’s taking it in his stride.

Th entertainer is running with the jokes in a series of TikToK videos.

“Hi, this is Omarion. I am an artist — not a variant,” he says.

“So please be aware that if you just so happen to run into me on the street, you don’t have to isolate for 5 days.”

And it’s not the first time people have got his name mixed up.

“The last time I had to do this was in 2000 when everyone confused Y2K with B2K [a former boy band he was part of],” he joked.

 

To Markets …

The ASX 200 is up 94.80 points or 1.27% at midday today to 7,539.40.

According to Morningstar, European stocks continued their advance as Covid fears abated after AstraZeneca said its vaccine booster was effective against Omicron. The pan-European STOXX 600 index, which tracks the performance of companies across 17 European companies, rose 1%.

In the US, strong inflation data helped prompt the Federal Reserve earlier this month to accelerate a winding down of its pandemic-era stimulus. Investors and central bankers are ostensibly worried that the Omicron variant could add additional pressure to inflation.

Developments in Covid treatments and vaccines seem to be contributing to expectations for an economic recovery in 2022 despite the spread of the Omicron variant, said Greg Bassuk, chief executive of AXS Investments, an asset-management firm for alternative investments.

“We believe Covid is still the investor narrative,” Mr. Bassuk said.

Mr. Bassuk said Thursday’s gains in travel and hospitality stocks reflect investors’ optimism for the containment of the pandemic. Shares of hotel chain Marriott International gained 1.9%, and United Airlines Holdings rose 0.9%.

Investors seem to be positioning themselves for a rebound in global travel in 2022, depending on developments with Covid-19 case rates and policy changes, said Paul Baiocchi, chief ETF strategist at SS&C ALPS Advisors.

“There is an opportunity for increased travel spending,” said Mr. Baiocchi, who expects a rotation into value from growth stocks this year.

 

ASX SMALL CAP WINNERS

Here are the best performing ASX small cap stocks for January 4 [intraday]:

Swipe or scroll to reveal full table. Click headings to sort: 

Company newsflow is still sparse heading into the New Year.

The biggest small cap winner today was Pancontinental Energy (ASX:PCL) up 100% on no news, followed by explorers Green Technology (ASX:GT1) up 25%, Minrex Resources (ASX:MRR) up 23% and Delecta (ASX:DLC) up 20% – all on no news.

 

ASX SMALL CAP LOSERS

 The biggest loser today was Amani Gold (ASX:ANL) down 33% on no news.