European markets tumbled on Monday as investors monitor a rapidly spreading new variant of the coronavirus strain that has shut down much of the UK
The Pan-European Stoxx 600 fell 2.1% at the start of trading, with Travel & Leisure stocks falling 5% as all sectors and major exchanges fell sharply into negative territory.
Traders are nervously watching the new Covid mutation in the UK, which has resulted in a tough lockdown in London and other parts of south-east England and a U-turn in the mix of households over the Christmas season.
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 resulted in several countries in Europe and elsewhere blocking travel from the UK. France, Germany, Italy, Ireland and the Netherlands have banned flights from the UK, while Canada and Israel have done the same.
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 fell sharply against the dollar, falling 1.7% to around $ 1.33.
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, U.S. futures were flat after Congress reached an agreement on a $ 900 billion coronavirus stimulus package. The legislature will vote on the aid and financing law on Monday.
As for the data, Eurozone consumer confidence numbers are due to be released at 3 p.m. London time.