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A variant of the coronavirus causes a wave of panic in the markets

PARIS (Reuters) – Major European stock markets fell sharply early in Friday, with renewed concern over the detection of a potentially vaccine-resistant variant of the coronavirus leading to the decline in equities, bond yields and crude prices.

Paris, the CAC 40 lost 3.82% 6.805.75 points 09:07 GMT, moving to the lowest since October 29. In London, the FTSE 100 fell 2.95% and Frankfurt, the Dax fell 2.93%.

The EuroStoxx 50 index fell 3.51%, the FTSEurofirst 300 2.82% and the Stoxx 600 2.85%, to the lowest in a month.

After the new epidemic wave in Europe, concerns about the evolution of the COVID-19 pandemic take a new turn with the detection in South Africa – but also in Botswana and Hong Kong – of a variant of the coronavirus whose mutations “very unusual” according to scientists could allow it to escape the body’s immune response and thus make it more transmissible.

The World Health Organization is organizing a meeting of experts this afternoon.

Britain has already taken action by announcing Thursday travel restrictions to South Africa and five neighboring African countries and Italy has banned arrivals from several countries in southern Africa.

“At this stage, it is too early to assess the potential economic consequences, but any new wave could cause serious damage to the economy,” said Holger Schmieding, chief economist at Berenberg.

On the stock market, all European sectors are down: the Stoxx 600 index of transport and leisure fell 4.76%, to its lowest since the beginning of February, in the face of tightening of traffic restrictions.

In Paris, Airbus and Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield fell respectively by 10.38% and 10.20%, at the back of the CAC 40, of which no component is up.

The airlines Air France-KLM, IAG, Ryanair and Lufthansa drop by 7.80% 10.8%.

The banks (-5%) are they affected by the fall in bond yields, the ten-year American falling 12 basis points to 1.5328% and its German equivalent by six basis points.

Agricultural credit yields 4.31%, BNP Paribas 5.13% and Socit Gnrale 5.35%.

The oil and loose gas compartment fell 4.89% and that of basic resources 4.32% in the wake of the sharp decline in the prices of crude and industrial metals, uncertainties about the variant fueling fears of an economic slowdown.

(Laetitia Volga, said by Blandine Hnault)

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