European markets were slumping Monday as panic sparked by the discovery in Britain of a new variant of the virus that causes COVID-19 overshadowed a final agreement in Washington of a new financial relief package.

The FTSE index in London was down 2.2% at midday. In Paris, the benchmark CAC-40 index dropped 2.7%, and the DAX index in Frankfurt plunged 2.9%.

Asian markets were mostly lower earlier Monday. Japan’s benchmark Nikkei index closed down 0.1%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index dropped 0.7%, while Mumbai’s Sensex plunged 3%. In Australia, the S&P/ASX index lost more than five-and-a-half points, but was unchanged percentage-wise (-0.08%).

In contrast, Shanghai’s Composite gained 0.7%, South Korea’s KOSPI index earned 0.2%, and the TSEC in Taiwan soared 0.9%.

In commodities trading, gold was selling at $1,883.70 per ounce, down 0.2%. U.S. crude oil was selling at $47.33 per barrel, down 3.6%, while Brent crude was down 3.8%, selling at $50.24 per barrel.

Many nations in Europe and elsewhere around the globe imposed travel bans of various time periods on flights from Britain as the new coronavirus strain spread across southern Britain.

All three major U.S. indices continued to trend downward in futures trading before the ringing of the opening bell on Wall Street.

Source: Voice of America