The new variant is rocking the stock market

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The new variant is rocking the stock market


The flagship Nikkei index was down more than 3% after bad viral news from South Africa.


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© AFP
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The Tokyo Stock Exchange’s flagship Nikkei index widened its losses on Friday at midday, dropping 3% amid fears related to the detection of a new variant of Covid-19 in South Africa potentially very transmissible.

Already battered since the start of the session because of these concerns, the Nikkei yielded 3.02% to 28,607.98 points shortly before 04:00 GMT, while the broad Topix index dropped 2.41% to 1,976.92 points.

The B.1.1.529 variant exhibits an “extremely high” number of mutations and has “a potential for very rapid spread,” virologist Tulio de Oliveira, whose team in South Africa had already discovered on Thursday, said on Thursday. last the Beta variant, very contagious.

At this point, scientists are unsure of the effectiveness of existing vaccines against the new form of the virus, which has already been detected abroad, including in Hong Kong in a person returning from South Africa.

The United Kingdom has already banned entry to its territory to travelers from South Africa and five other southern African countries. “There are fears that if the existing vaccines do not work (in the face of this variant, editor’s note), people will have to confine themselves again”, commented Nobuhiko Kuramochi of Mizuho Securities, quoted by the Bloomberg agency.

The yen, a safe haven

“Concerns about the new variant discovered in South Africa weigh on the Tokyo market”, also commented Ryuta Otsuka, strategist of Toyo Securities interviewed by AFP. The yen, a safe haven for investors, rose sharply against the dollar because of these fears, a negative exchange rate movement for Japanese exporting stocks.

After 04:15 GMT a dollar was trading for 114.61 yen against 115.36 yen on Thursday. The European currency also fell against the yen, at the rate of one euro for 128.59 yen against 129.31 yen the day before. The euro climbed to $ 1.1223, from $ 1.1209 on Thursday.

Oil prices fell, the variant risking to slow down the global economic recovery and therefore the demand for black gold: after 04:10 GMT the American barrel of WTI dropped 2.55% to 76.39 dollars and the barrel of Brent of the sea North lost 2.02% to 80.59 dollars.

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