The 27-nation EU proposed a mass travel suspension to member governments after South Africa said the variant was spreading in its most populous province.
Britain banned flights from South Africa and five nearby countries. Austria imposed a 10-day lockdown while Italy restricted activity by unvaccinated people. Americans were advised by their government to avoid Germany and Denmark. Belgium has already reported two cases of the emerging variant, and the slew of data points has added up to a flurry of uncertainty.
Investors are likely to shoot first and ask questions later until more is known,Jeffrey Halley of Oanda said of the market action.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average, the S&P 500, and the TSX Composite Index were all down by about two per cent within minutes of markets opening.
This news has completely overshadowed early anecdotal reports of strong in-person and online traffic for Black Friday sales,said Colin Cieszynski with SIA Wealth Management in Toronto.
Anything related to energy or travel and tourism is being hit especially hard as investors digest the prospect of another round of limitations on international travel.
The North American benchmark oil price known as West Texas Intermediate lost more than $5, or more than seven per cent, to trade below $73 a barrel.
Air Canada shares lost six per cent while those of cruise line Carnival lost 11 per cent. Hotel chains Hilton and Marriott were both down by more than eight per cent.
These announcements have sparked a sell-off in travel-related stocks (airlines, cruise lines, hotels, etc.) and has sparked a rally in stay-at-home and vaccine stocks,Cieszynski said.
CBC News with files from The Associated Press