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Title: European shares set for worst sell-off in a year as virus scare grips

Nov 26, 2021 04:30AM ET

By: AnalysisWatch

European stocks had their worst trading day in more than a year on Friday. Reports of a newly discovered and possibly vaccine-resistant coronavirus variant fueled fears of another attack on the global economy and drove investors out of risky assets.

The benchmark STOXX 600 index lost 2.5%. It had already fallen 3.6% in early trading, while the volatility indicator for the main stock market hit its highest level in almost 10 months.

Little is known about the variant discovered in South Africa, Botswana, and Hong Kong, but scientists said it had an unusual combination of mutations and may be able to bypass immune responses or make it transmissible.

France's CAC 40 lost 3.3%, leading regional markets, as shares in aircraft maker Airbus, shopping centre operator Unibail and Safran fell about 10% each.

Germany's DAX fell 2.6%, while Spain's IBEX slipped 3.4 percent.

Cyclical European stock markets were already under pressure this week as a flare-up of COVID-19 cases in several countries led to new restrictions.

Shares in the travel and leisure sector fell 3.9%, having already dropped 7%, after Britain announced a temporary ban on flights from South Africa and several neighbouring countries from 1200 GMT on Friday. The European Union is also planning similar measures.

Shares in British Airways owner IAG, easyJet, cruise company Carnival, and travel firm TUI fell between 9% and 10%.

Oil and gas producers fell 4.3%, while mining stocks slid 3.5% as oil and metal prices increased concerns about an economic slowdown on reports of the new variant of the virus.

As a result of the decline in bond yields, the banking index fell 4.4%, while some shares of stay-at-home companies, such as Delivery Hero and Just Eat Takeaway.com, rose about 3%.

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