European stocks sank more than 3% on Friday, as report of a newly identified and possibly vaccine-resistant coronavirus variant stoked fears of a fresh hit to global economy and drove investors out of riskier assets.
The pan-European STOXX 600 index fell 3.3% by 0819 GMT, on course for its worst session in over a year, while UK's FTSE 100 dropped 3.3%. Germany's DAX fell 3.4% and France's CAC 40 shed 4.3%.
Little is known of the variant detected in South Africa, Botswana and Hong Kong, but scientists said it has an unusual combination of mutations and may be able to evade immune responses or make it more transmissible.
Cyclical-heavy European stock markets have already been under stress this week as a resurgence in COVID-19 cases prompted new restrictions in several countries.
Travel & leisure stocks plunged 6.5% after Britain announced a temporary ban on flights from South Africa and several neighboring countries from 1200 GMT on Friday.
Shares in British Airways owner IAG and easyJet fell over 12%, while cruise operator Carnival and travel company TUI fell between 12% and 15%.
Oil & gas producers dropped 5.8%, while miners tumbled 4.4% as oil and metal prices lost ground as reports of the new virus variant fueled economic slowdown worries.
Tracking falls in bond yields, the banking index dropped 4.4%, while some stay-at-home stocks including Delivery Hero and Just Eat Takeaway.com rose between 3% and 5%.
New York's S&P 500 futures dropped 2%, with trading likely thinned by the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday on Thursday and a shortened trading session on Friday.