European Shares Fall Closely Below Jitter Over New Coronavirus Pressure; Stoxx 600 down 2.3%
European markets closed significantly lower on Monday as investors monitored a rapidly spreading new variant of the coronavirus that has shut down much of the UK
The pan-European Stoxx 600 closed 2.3% tentatively while banks fell 3.6% to cause losses. All sectors and major exchanges slipped into negative territory.
Traders are nervously watching the new Covid mutation in the UK, which has resulted in a tough lockdown and U-turn in the mix of households in London and other parts of south-east England over the Christmas break.
The variant is believed to be up to 70% more communicable than the original strain of the disease. The World Health Organization said it had previously been identified in Denmark, the Netherlands and Australia.
It has resulted in blocking travel from the UK in several countries in Europe and elsewhere. France, Germany, Italy, Ireland and the Netherlands have banned flights from the UK, as well as Canada and Israel.
The situation could make the Brexit talks even more difficult. The UK and the European Union remain at an impasse on post-Brexit trade relations as the December 31 deadline expires and disputes over issues such as fisheries plague negotiations.
The pound sterling was sharply lower against the dollar, falling 1.32% to around $ 1.3345.
In Asia, stocks that are mixed-trading due to the coronavirus situation in parts of North Asia – such as Japan and South Korea – remain serious.
Meanwhile, Wall Street stocks fell as excitement for a coronavirus stimulus deal was overwhelmed by worries over the UK’s new viral strain of Covid
The Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped 260 points. The S&P 500 lost 1.6% and the Nasdaq Composite fell 1.5%.
Travel stocks suffer
Cruise operator Carnival was down more than 5%, while booking service Trainline lost more than 10%.
Oil companies BP and Shell also lost around 5% at the close of the market.