More than £ 85 billion was wiped from two London stock indexes on Friday in a market rout triggered by the new variant of Covid which has been found in southern Africa.
In the City, the FTSE 100 index ended the day down 3.6%, taking £ 72.1 billion off the value of its shares.
Meanwhile, the FTSE 250, which includes smaller companies, lost 3.2% of its value, wiping out £ 13.5 billion of shares. The UK said on Thursday it will stop all direct flights from South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Lesotho and Eswatini due to an increase in identified cases with the new mutation.
The collapse of London was led by airlines and Rolls-Royce, which manufactures aircraft engines.
British Airways owner IAG and cruise line Carnival had both lost more than a tenth of their market value. EasyJet, Tui and Wizz Air were not far behind.
But the less obvious victims of the new travel restrictions were also among the big losers.
Concern that office workers will return to work from home and give up their supermarket sandwiches at lunchtime has hit Greencore Group, which makes these sandwiches for supermarkets.
However, Greencore’s chief executive announced his intention to step down on Thursday afternoon, which could also affect shares.
Investec, which is headquartered in South Africa, was also a big loser, while online supermarket Ocado soared as investors bet on a potential new foreclosure.
“Forget Black Friday; today has been renamed Red Friday after the color of stock price screens as stocks collapse around the world amid fears of a new strain of Covid, ”said Russ Mold, chief investment officer at AJ Bell.
“Headlines calling it the ‘worst variant ever’ freaked investors out and ditch travel-related stocks lest we see tough travel restrictions again.
He added, “The drop in the price of oil (is) how the market says it worries about a reduction in economic activity, which also explains the drop in metal prices.
“Markets are clearly speculating that a rapid spread of a more brutal Covid strain could once again derail the global economy. Bank stocks were also low as they are closely linked to economic activity. “
But he also added that falling commodity prices could slow global inflation, which has reached high levels in recent months.
In Germany, France, the United States and Asia, some of the major markets had also fallen significantly by the end of the game on Friday.