GLOBAL MARKETS-Stocks slip, havens rally as new COVID-19 variant spooks investors

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By Tom Westbrook

SYDNEY, Nov 26 (Reuters) – Stocks fell and headed for their largest weekly drop in nearly two months on Friday, while safe haven assets such as bonds and the yen rallied as a new virus variant added to swirling concerns about future growth and higher U.S. interest rates.

The variant, detected by scientists in South Africa, may be able to evade immune responses and has prompted Britain to hurriedly introduce travel restrictions on South Africa.

South Africa’s rand fell 1% in early trade, as did U.S. crude futures. S&P 500 futures fell 0.4%, while the risk-sensitive Australian and New Zealand dollars dropped to three-month lows.

“The trigger was news of this COVID variant…and the uncertainty as to what this means,” said Ray Attrill, head of FX strategy at National Australia Bank in Sydney. “You shoot first and ask questions later when this sort of news erupts.”

Japan’s Nikkei was down 1.7% in early trade and Australian shares fell…

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