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Fears over the Delta Covid variant see £54bn wiped off the FTSE100

Fears over Delta variant see £54bn wiped off the FTSE100 as markets tumble around the globe

Markets around the globe were in freefall amid mounting fears over the spread of the Delta Covid variant.

In total £54billion was wiped off the FTSE 100 as the index fell 2.3 per cent, or 163.70, points to 6844.39 by the close.

The plunge followed steep drops overnight in Asia and in Paris and Frankfurt the Cac 40 and the Dax were both down by more than 2 per cent.

Delta fears: In total £54bn was wiped off the FTSE 100 as the index fell 2.3 per cent, or 163.70, points to 6844.39 by the close

The sell-off continued into the New York session, where the Dow Jones was off 3 per cent, the S&P 500 lost 2 per cent and the Nasdaq dropped 1.5 per cent.

The losses marred England’s ‘Freedom Day’, which saw a range of restrictions lifted, including the need to wear face masks in most public spaces.

But while pub, restaurant and gym owners cheered the moves, investors were much more concerned by the Delta variant, which according to scientists is more transmissible than previous strains of the virus.

The falls in Europe were triggered by ministers on the Continent hinting curfew measures could be re-imposed if infections continue to climb.

In Israel there are disturbing suggestions the Covid vaccine may be losing its efficacy in older people, with Hebrew University in Jerusalem reporting that 90pc of confirmed cases in the over-50s were people who had been fully vaccinated.

‘This is the market’s realisation that we are moving from a clear V-shaped recovery into something a lot more uncertain,’ said Mohammed Kazmi, a portfolio manager at Union Bancaire Privee.

‘The hope was that vaccines would provide us with the endgame. Now investors are looking at the UK and there’s a bit of fear with regards to reopening so aggressively when cases are still so high.’

The biggest drops came in the airlines and travel sectors.

British Airways owner IAG was down 5.2 per cent, 8.78p, at 159p, while Easyjet was off 6.7 per cent, or 54.2p, at 770p.

Engineers were also hit and Rolls-Royce tumbled 6.5 per cent, or 6.06p, at 87p.

Cruise operator Carnival lost 8.3 per cent, or 117p, to close at 1297.2p and holiday operator Tui fell 3.8 per cent, or 12.2p, to 308.7p..

One of only a few risers on the FTSE 100 was food delivery app Just Eat Takeaway (up 3.3 per cent, or 190p to 6034p), a company that has performed well during the pandemic when people are stuck at home.

Inflation fears also hung over the markets and there was much chatter on trading floors about whether central bankers in the US and UK might look to curb quantitative easing in the months ahead. 

Inflation has ripped higher in recent months and economists who had previously said it would be ‘transitory’ have started to change their minds.

Neil Wilson, analyst at Markets, said: ‘We’re back to the bad old days unfortunately. Many investors would have hoped days like these were behind us.

‘Clearly the view is now that Covid is here for the long term.

‘People who thought they were vaccinated assumed they had become invincible.’

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk