The new variant of coronavirus shakes the markets

Hong Kong / London (CNN Business) – Dow futures tumbled and oil fell 5% on Friday following the emergence of a new variant of covid-19 that shook global markets.

Asian stocks led the way. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index (HSI) fell 2.7%, while Japan’s Nikkei 225 (N225) was down 2.5%. European markets also sold strongly at the open, with major indices such as the FTSE 100, France’s CAC40 and Germany’s DAX, all down around 3%.

US markets, which were closed Thursday for Thanksgiving, took a heavy hit before the start of the shortened session on Friday. Dow (INDU) futures fell around 700 points, down 2%. S&P 500 (INX) and Nasdaq (COMP) futures fell 1.6% and 1%, respectively.

US crude plunged 5% to around $ 74 a barrel. Brent crude, the world’s benchmark oil index, fell 4.3%.

Investors were “scared” by the discovery of the new covid-19 variant in South Africa, Jeffrey Halley, senior market analyst for Asia Pacific at Oanda, said in a research note on Friday.

South Africa’s health minister said Thursday that a new variant of the coronavirus appears to be spreading rapidly in some parts of the country.

It has also been detected in Botswana, Hong Kong, and Israel.

UK Health Minister Sajid Javid said the variant “may be more transmissible” than the delta and that “the vaccines we currently have may be less effective.” The new variant has already led the UK government to ban flights from six African countries.

Travel and airline stocks are among those that fell the most on Friday.

“With the delta wave from earlier this year in mind, investors are likely to shoot first and ask questions later until more is known about it,” Halley said.

– Rob North contributed to this article.