London open: Stocks tumble on new Covid variant
London’s equity markets were a sea of red on Friday following heavy losses in Asia, as investors were spooked by a new Covid variant found in South Africa.
At 0830 GMT, the FTSE 100 was down 3.2% at 7,074.08.
Richard Hunter, head of markets at Interactive Investor, said: "The absence of a lead from Wall Street, closed for the Thanksgiving holiday, left investors to ponder the latest strain of the Coronavirus variant which in turn has led to a rather black Friday.
"Detected in areas such as South Africa and Hong Kong, the combination of mutations has already led to travel restrictions alongside the possibility of further lockdowns. The news follows a similarly concerning trend in Europe, and Asian markets found themselves under strong selling pressure overnight.
"Inevitably this will dampen sentiment generally until such time as the strength of the variant can be assessed and, in the meantime, further pressure is likely to track shares in the likes of the airline and hospitality sectors. With the ‘new normal’ yet to be established post-pandemic, the theme will continue to run for some time yet."
Travel-related shares took the biggest hit, with British Airways owner IAG, Premier Inn owner Whitbread, InterContinental Hotels, Tui, Wizz Air, Carnival and easyJet all sharply lower. Engine maker Rolls-Royce and GKN owner Melrose also suffered heavy declines.
Leisure and hospitality took a knock, with Cineworld, Mitchells & Butlers and Restaurant Group all down, while oil giants BP and Shell gushed lower as oil prices slid.
On the upside, online supermarket Ocado - which has benefited from lockdowns and restrictions - was the standout gainer on the FTSE 100.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Ocado Group (OCDO) 1,777.00p 1.60%
Reckitt Benckiser Group (RKT) 6,251.00p 0.87%
Bunzl (BNZL) 2,805.00p -0.32%
Avast (AVST) 598.80p -0.37%
Severn Trent (SVT) 2,879.00p -0.48%
United Utilities Group (UU.) 1,081.50p -0.51%
SEGRO (SGRO) 1,392.50p -0.54%
Meggitt (MGGT) 739.80p -0.54%
Tesco (TSCO) 278.40p -0.70%
Sainsbury (J) (SBRY) 293.20p -0.74%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (CDI) (IAG) 122.06p -20.90%
Rolls-Royce Holdings (RR.) 120.22p -12.59%
BP (BP.) 319.90p -7.21%
Whitbread (WTB) 2,901.00p -6.66%
Melrose Industries (MRO) 150.15p -6.62%
InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) 4,719.00p -6.41%
Anglo American (AAL) 2,672.50p -6.08%
Royal Dutch Shell 'B' (RDSB) 1,549.80p -6.04%
Royal Dutch Shell 'A' (RDSA) 1,551.00p -5.98%
Johnson Matthey (JMAT) 2,009.00p -5.90%
FTSE 250 - Risers
3i Infrastructure (3IN) 340.00p 0.15%
Pets at Home Group (PETS) 470.00p 0.00%
Endeavour Mining (EDV) 1,790.00p 0.00%
Hipgnosis Songs Fund Limited NPV (SONG) 128.00p 0.00%
JPMorgan American Inv Trust (JAM) 752.00p 0.00%
Ultra Electronics Holdings (ULE) 3,106.00p 0.00%
JPMorgan European Discovery Trust (JEDT) 544.00p 0.00%
AVI Global Trust (AGT) 1,090.00p 0.00%
Hipgnosis Songs Fund Limited C Shs NPV (SONC) 112.50p 0.00%
SDCL Energy Efficiency Income Trust (SEIT) 116.00p 0.00%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Wizz Air Holdings (WIZZ) 3,690.00p -16.12%
easyJet (EZJ) 475.70p -15.72%
Carnival (CCL) 1,200.00p -14.82%
SSP Group (SSPG) 231.00p -9.84%
WH Smith (SMWH) 1,380.00p -9.80%
Cineworld Group (CINE) 47.61p -9.62%
TUI AG Reg Shs (DI) (TUI) 201.40p -9.20%
Restaurant Group (RTN) 78.10p -8.12%
Mitchells & Butlers (MAB) 224.60p -8.10%
Greencore Group (CDI) (GNC) 125.10p -7.54%