European markets fell 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 fell 1.8% in early trading, while Travel and Leisure stocks fell 4% 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 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, the Eurozone consumer confidence figures are due to be released at 3pm. London time.
Travel stocks suffer
British Airways' parent company, IAG, fell 13.5% in early trading, causing a wide drop in airlines and travel companies.
Cruise operator Carnival was down 8.8%, while Tui, Lufthansa and Rolls-Royce were down more than 7%.