- Concerns over a new variant of Covid started to rise, with the U.K. temporarily suspending flights from six countries in southern Africa.
- The new Covid variant has more than 30 mutations to the spike protein, and the WHO is holding a special meeting Friday to discuss what it may mean for vaccines and treatments.
LONDON — European stocks plummeted on Friday amid fears over a new variant of Covid-19 that reportedly has multiple mutations.
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The pan-European Stoxx 600 tumbled 2.6% in early trade, with travel and leisure stocks cratering by over 4% to lead losses as all sectors and major bourses fell sharply into negative territory.
European investors were already monitoring the acute covid crisis in the region this week amid rising infections that have prompted a handful of countries to introduce new Covid restrictions.
Italy announced Wednesday evening that it will introduce tighter Covid measures and Germany has narrowly avoided another lockdown, with the incoming government reportedly wanting to wait and see if tighter Covid passport rules help to alleviate rising cases there.
But overnight, concerns over a new variant of Covid started to rise, with the U.K. temporarily suspending flights from six countries in southern Africa. The new Covid variant has more than 30 mutations to the spike protein, according to South African scientists, and the WHO is holding a special meeting Friday to discuss what it may mean for vaccines and treatments.
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U.S. markets were closed Thursday for Thanksgiving and will close early on Friday in a shortened session. Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell more than 700 points on Friday morning amid the renewed Covid concerns.
Shares in Asia-Pacific were also hit hard on Friday, with Japan’s Nikkei 225 shedding 2.53% to lead losses.
Lockdown and pharma stocks climb, travel plummets
Cruise operator Carnival plunged more than 16% in early trade on the back of the variant news, leading a broad decline for travel and leisure stocks that also saw the likes of Tui, Rolls-Royce, Airbus and IAG tumble.
At the top of the Stoxx 600, German meal kit delivery company Hellofresh gained more than 6% along with Italian biotech firm DiaSorin and Luxembourg-based lab testing company Eurofins Scientific. Delivery Hero also gained more than 5%.
Source : CNBC