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Stocks went lower as Covid new variants spook investors

On Friday, stocks experienced their sharpest drop in Asia. After detecting a new and probably vaccine-resistant Covid variant, Oil fell. It resulted in investors rushing toward the safer currencies: the yen and the dollar.

MSCI’s index of Asia shares dropped 2.1% outside Japan. It marked its sharpest decline since the beginning of August. Beverage and casino shares were hit in Hong Kong, while travel stocks fell in Tokyo and Sydney.

Japan’s Nikkei slipped 3.1% while the U.S. crude oil futures fell around 3.1% in the middle of fresh demand fears.

S&P 500 futures were down 1.1%, while Euro STOXX 50 futures were down 2.1%.

There is a new Covid variant detected in South Africa, Hong Kong, and Botswana. Scientists have little information about this variant. However, they said an unusual mixture of mutations might evade immune responses or make the variant more transmissible.

British authorities consider it the most critical variant today, concerning it might resist vaccines. After that, on Friday, the country decided to hurry to impose travel restrictions. Japan took the same lead as The U.K.

Head of FX strategy at National Australia Bank in Sydney, Ray Attrill, said that it is essential to act first and ask questions later when such news appears.

Two-year Treasury yields dropped six basis points. It was marked as the sharpest drop since the beginning of 2020.

On Friday, South Africa’s rand fell more than 1.6% to a one-year low. The risk-sensitive New Zealand and Australian dollars dropped to three-month troughs.

Australia has also revealed the possibility of closing borders after the appearance of the new variant.

A currency analyst at the Bank of Singapore, Moh Siong Sim, said that markets anticipate the risk of another surge of infections globally if vaccines turn out to be ineffective against the virus. He added that reopening hopes might be broken.

Coronavirus outbreaks are pushing restrictions on activity and movement globally. European countries have already expanded booster vaccinations. Most countries declared a two-week lockdown, shutting bars early.

Chief investment officer at Hyperion Asset Management in Brisbane, Mark Arnold, said that there is no evidence that anything will go back to the pre-Covid-19 world soon. He said that in his opinion, the reality is that the world would go through various mutations over time, which will reshape the way people operate in the economy.

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