European stocks closed significantly lower on Monday as investors monitored a fast-spreading new variant of the coronavirus that has shut down much of the U.K.
The pan-European Stoxx 600 provisionally closed 2.3% down, with banks falling 3.6% to lead losses. All sectors and major bourses slid into negative territory.
Traders are nervously watching the new Covid mutation in the U.K., which has resulted in a tough lockdown in London and other parts of southeast England and a U-turn on the mixing of households over the Christmas break.
The variant is thought to be up to 70% more transmissible than the original strain of the disease. The World Health Organization said it has so far been identified in Denmark, the Netherlands and Australia.
It has led to several countries in Europe and elsewhere to block travel from Britain. France, Germany, Italy, Ireland and the Netherlands
Sterling sank sharply versus the dollar, falling 1.32% to around $1.3345.