FTSE 100 Live 26 November: Covid-19 variant, southern African variant, B.1.1.529, world markets sell-off, oil prices lower, Brent crude futures

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hares have tumbled and oil prices are sharply lower following the discovery of a new and more transmissible variant of Covid-19.

The Nikkei 225 closed 2.5% lower and the FTSE 100 index is set to fall more than 100 points, with airlines and other leisure stocks leading the way.

Alarm over the variant known as B.1.1.529 prompted a flight to the US dollar, with Brent crude futures down more than 2% at below $80 a barrel.

Live updates

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FTSE 100 set to fall 120 points

Oil prices and stocks in Asia have fallen sharply amid concerns over the discovery of a new and more transmissible variant of Covid-19.

The Nikkei fell 2.5% in Tokyo and the Hang Seng in Hong Kong slumped to its lowest level in almost two months. Fears over the potential impact on economic demand meant Brent crude futures fell 2.5% to around the $80 a barrel mark.

Markets in Europe are expected to see a sharp decline, particularly after a week of speculation about additioanal restrictions to deal with existing strains of the virus.

CMC Markets expects the FTSE 100 index to open 120 points lower at 7190. Its chief markets analyst Michael Hewson said thin liquidity levels as a result of the US thanksgiving holiday may have influenced the scale of the reaction in Asia.

However, Oanda’s Jeffrey Halley added: “With the Delta wave in mind from earlier this year, investors are likely to shoot first and ask questions later until more is known about it.

“Viruses do not mutate to become less effective, so assuming the worst is probably the safe option for now. The return of US markets this afternoon, mostly for a half-day session, is unlikely to change that narrative ahead of the weekend.”

Leisure-focused stocks will bear the brunt of today’s sell-off, having recovered ground in the previous session after gains of almost 3% for hotel chains Whitbread and IHG.

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