Russian markets stumble upon discovery of ‘worst ever’ strain of coronavirus

Russian financial markets plunged on a day of global market turmoil after the discovery of a new strain of coronavirus, dubbed “the…worse than everby scholars.

The ruble fell 2% against the major currencies by lunchtime on Friday in Moscow trading, hitting a seven-month low of 75.7 against the US dollar and 85.2 against the euro.

The sell-off culminates in a tough week for the Russian markets, which began with what traders calledblack monday“- A day when it incurred heavy losses due to fears of a military confrontation between Russia and Ukraine.

The Russian stock market has now lost 16% over the past four weeks.

Several countries have restricted travel to South Africa and a number of other African countries, where the new strain of coronavirus, called “No”, was first detected.

Scientists say the new variant contains more mutations in the virus’ protein spike than the highly transmissible delta variant, raising concerns that it may be better able to evade vaccines and prolong the epidemic.

Russia’s main stock market, the dollar-denominated RTS index, fell more than 4% in the early hours of trading on Friday as investors assessed the news and the potential impact on the global economy. Russia followed other major markets lower, with major stock indexes in London and Frankfurt also down more than 3%. Traders in the US are also bracing for big losses when markets open later on Friday.

In Russia, commodity companies were the biggest losers, heading lower after a 5% drop in oil prices, as traders fear travel restrictions and new closures are on the way.

South Africa is on Russia’s list of countries with which air travel has been restored after a complete closure of Russia’s borders at the start of the coronavirus pandemic last year.

The Russian embassy in South Africa said, on Friday, that it was monitoring the situation, but did not advise Russians to stop traveling to the country, the state news agency TASS reported.

The Kremlin has previously closed travel to virus hotspots and areas where new variants have been discovered, ban Flights to Britain after the discovery of the alpha strain last December, for example.

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