FTSE 100 dipped 2 pieces as new Covid variant shakes markets

NSgood morning.

Some rather bleak reading to start Friday, I fear, as news of the new super-variable for Covid is sending shock waves through the markets.

While little is known about the variant B.1.1529 – which was first discovered in South Africa – warnings that it was the most dangerous mutation of all were enough to scare investors.

In addition to the sharp decline in Asian stocks, US futures fell and crude oil fell. US Treasuries and the yen rose, while the South African rand fell to its lowest level in a year.

5 things to start your day

1) Marks and Spencer under fire for plan to demolish Marble Arch flagship store Critics say it risks ‘ugly spreadsheet architecture’

2) More EU citizens left the UK last year than they did for the first time in three decades Net migration falls as pandemic restrictions and post-Brexit rules come into effect

3) Bank of England Museum hosts slavery exhibition Portraits of former rulers associated with the slave trade will be displayed when the Bank Museum reopens

4) Huel founder in line for hundreds of millions of £1 billion float Julian Hearn owns a 53 percent stake in the meal replacement beverage company

5) Energy watchdog faces ‘serious questions’ over series of supplier collapse Two other energy providers stopped trading Thursday, affecting another 70,000 households

What happened overnight

Stocks fell and headed for their biggest weekly drop in nearly two months on Friday, while safe-haven assets such as bonds and the yen rose as the new virus variable raised concerns about future growth and higher US interest rates.

The South African rand was down 1% in early trade, and US crude oil futures were also down. S&P 500 futures fell 0.4%, while the risk-sensitive Australian and New Zealand dollars fell to three-month lows.

Japan’s Nikkei fell 1.7 percent in early trading, and Australian shares fell 0.6 percent. MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was down 0.2%, down 1pc weekly.

Coming today

  • major company: There are no company releases scheduled for today
  • Economics: money supply (I)

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