European shares firm as Omicron worries ebb
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Dec 30 (Reuters) - European shares inched higher on Thursday on hopes that new coronavirus-related curbs and restrictions may not be needed into 2022 as the Omicron variant is seen milder, although surging number of cases kept a lid on gains.
The pan-European STOXX 600 .STOXX rose 0.1%, as of 0815 GMT, after edging 0.1% lower on Wednesday, with tech .SX8P, healthcare .SXDP and retail .SXRP stocks in the lead.
Several European markets such as Italy, Germany, and Spain will be closed on Friday, while those including Paris and London will trade for half a session, ahead of the New Year.
While global COVID-19 infections hit a record high over the seven-day period until Tuesday, researchers said a booster dose of Johnson & Johnson's JNJ vaccine was 84% effective at preventing hospitalisation in South African healthcare workers who became infected as the Omicron variant spread. nL8N2TE11Q nL8N2TD2G5
Siemens Healthineers SEMHF gained 0.6% after the U.S. drug regulator granted emergency use authorisation to the German health tech firms' at-home COVID-19 tests. nL4N2TE2AN
(Reporting by Anisha Sircar in Bengaluru; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)