Asian stock markets follow Wall St up as omicron fears ease

BEIJING (AP) — Asian stock markets have risen after Wall Street hit a new high as fears of the coronavirus’s omicron variant eased. Tokyo, Hong Kong and Sydney advanced. Shanghai declined. Wall Street’s benchmark S&P 500 index rose 0.6% on Thursday in the last U.S. trading session before Christmas. Investor anxiety has mounted as omicron spread but moderated after authorities said it might cause less severe illness. President Joe Biden called for more vaccinations and testing but announced no plans for travel restrictions. The Commerce Department reported U.S. consumer spending rose 5.7% in November over a year earlier, its fastest pace in 39 years.