European markets slide as omicron worries intensify; Stoxx 600 down 1.5%
LONDON — European markets fell sharply on Monday, as the rapid spread of the omicron Covid-19 variant triggers stricter containment measures across the continent.
The pan-European Stoxx 600 dropped 1.5% by late morning, with travel and leisure stocks shedding 2.4% to lead losses as all sectors and major bourses slid into negative territory.
The Netherlands entered full lockdown on Sunday until mid-January, and the possibility of tighter restrictions being imposed over the Christmas holidays and into the new year looms over a number of European countries amid an unprecedented surge in Covid-19 cases.
From Monday, only German citizens, residents and transit passengers will be allowed to enter Germany from the U.K., with all inbound travelers required to quarantine for 14 days irrespective of vaccination status. Travel restrictions were also imposed for arrivals from Denmark, Norway and France.
Austria will only allow entry to vaccinated travelers from Monday.
Cases have also begun to spiral stateside, with New York state and the District of Columbia posting record daily cases for consecutive days.
The World Health Organization said on Saturday that cases of the omicron variant, which has now been detected in 89 countries, are doubling every 1.5 to 3 days in areas with community transmission.
Stock futures fell sharply in early premarket trade stateside, indicating a negative open on Wall Street as omicron concerns and the Federal Reserve’s impending tightening of monetary policy weighed on sentiment.
Stocks in Asia-Pacific also pulled back overnight with Japanese markets leading losses. Meanwhile, China slashed its benchmark lending rate for the first time in more than a year and a half.
On the data front, the euro zone’s current account surplus grew in October as an expansion of the bloc’s services trade surplus outweighed the contraction in goods trade.
Stocks on the move
In terms of individual share price movement, Belgian biotech firm Argenx jumped more than 8% after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved a landmark drug.
At the bottom of the Stoxx 600, Danish drugmaker Novo Nordisk tumbled more than 10% after announcing Friday that it would be unable to meet demand for its new weight loss drug amid supply problems in the U.S.
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