A team of WHO is monitoring the new COVID-19 variant and experts on WHO’s Technical Advisory Group on Virus Evolution (TAG-VE) is to meet on November 26 to assess the new variant. (Image: Twitter/@WHO)
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Markets across Asia are in a blue funk today on reports of a new and dangerous variant of the coronavirus.
At the day’s close, the Sensex was down nearly 3 percent, in line with the bloodbath in other Asian markets. Japan and Hong Kong were down by more than 2.5 percent each while Singapore shed 1.7 percent.
The so-called Botswana variant has more than 30 mutations, Nature reported. Many of the changes have been found in variants such as Delta and Alpha and are linked to heightened infectivity and the ability to evade infection-blocking antibodies, the report said.
Meanwhile, the World Health Organization (WHO) has scheduled a special meeting today to discuss the mutation and label it as a “variant of concern” or “variant of interest”.
Yesterday, the central government issued an advisory to states asking them to rigorously screen and test travellers coming from or transiting through South Africa, Hong Kong and Botswana, where cases infected with this new variant has been reported.
The report of this new variant adds to a pall of gloom around the markets. Indian stocks had been somewhat resilient despite rising cases of COVID-19 in Europe. However, since mid-November, markets have been on a continuous slide, barring a couple of days.
The pricey valuation of local stocks has not helped sentiment. Neither has the disastrous debut of Paytm in the stock markets. Foreign institutional investors have been selling heavily this month; so far they have pulled nearly $1.3 billion from Indian stocks and bonds. Europe’s rising COVID cases will also start to tell on economic activity there and elsewhere as more lockdowns are imposed.
All this comes at a time when Indians were hoping that they had seen the last of the pandemic. Life is getting back to normal. In Maharashtra, for instance, schools have been told to open the gates for children in grades one-seven from December. But scientists have to be alert against new variants, warns this piece from FT today (free to read for Pro subscribers).
Moreover, as our piece today warns, it is too soon to expect the end of COVID-19. Despite drugs and vaccines, we will have to live it for a few more years.
Meanwhile, take heart from Waka Waka (This time for Africa), whose lines go thus:
You're on the front line / Everyone's watching / You know it's serious, we are getting closer / This isn't over
Also, why don’t you look at the notes our research team has written and pick some stocks at a bargain?
LIC IPO: Valuation takes the centre-stage
Reliance Industries: Corporate restructuring signals transformational shift towards clean energy
CCL Products: Ready to be sipped
Weekly Tactical Pick: HG Infra Engineering
Herd Immunity Tracker: Run rate picks up, post festive season
What else are we reading?
Ola Electric hype revs up competition
Softened by private capital, startups are struggling with public market norms
Star Health's single business focus is both an advantage and a drawback
Writing artificial intelligence code for the world -- out of India
India-US trade — Time-bound action must match promise
Lex | US stocks: Earnings forecasts are perilously high (Republished from the FT)
Picks from our technical analysts
ITC, L&T Finance Holdings, TV18 Broadcast and KPR Mill (These are published every trading day before markets open)