Global stocks sell off as new Covid strain unsettles investors

Global stocks sell off as new Covid strain unsettles investors

Sterling falls and Wall Street trades lower as UK virus mutation prompts lockdowns and travel bans

Global stock markets and the oil price fell after a new strain of coronavirus sweeping through parts of Britain sparked fears over further lockdowns across the continent.

In Europe, the region-wide Stoxx 600 fell 2.7 per cent by mid afternoon in London, heading for its biggest daily drop since October, while London’s FTSE 100 fell 2 per cent.

On Wall Street, the S&P 500 fell 1.4 per cent in and the Nasdaq Composite dropped a similar amount. Earlier in the session the Vix, Wall Street’s “fear gauge” which measures expected volatility on the S&P, touched 30, its highest since early November, before falling back to 26.8.

The FTSE All-Share index fell 1.8 per cent, putting the global benchmark on course for its worst day since October 28.

On Saturday, UK prime minister Boris Johnson unveiled the tightest social restrictions since the March lockdown for more than 16m people in south-east England, including London. He also warned that a new mutation of Covid-19 was up to 70 per cent more transmissible.