New virus strain pulls back online vs offline bets in equities New virus strain pulls back online vs offline bets in equities New virus strain pulls back online vs offline bets in equities

New virus strain pulls back online vs offline bets in equities

7 minutes to read
Peter Garnry

Chief Investment Strategist

Summary:  Equities markets are selling off due to new virus strain due to this strain being much more infectious than the current dominant variants, but more importantly uncertainty over how effective the vaccines will be on this new strain. This uncertainty lifts the probability of more lockdowns and travel restrictions and as a result traders selling off physical companies in energy, mining, financials and consumer discretionary against health care, utilities, and technology stocks. While overshadowed of today's risk-off event there have been several key news out on Chinese equities related to Didi Global, Evergrande, and Meituan which we cover in today's equity update.

Equities react to increased likelihood of new lockdowns

Financials markets are in upheaval over a new Covid virus strain (called the Nu variant) has been identified in South Africa, which seems to be more infectious than the current dominant strains. With Europe and some northern parts of the US in a stretched situation to an already high number of new cases and hospitalizations, this new virus strain comes at the worst possible time. The good thing is that the more infectious the virus get the less likely it is to also get more virulent, but it can still put pressure on hospitals. Equities are reacting negatively because it is unknown at this point to what degree the vaccines will be effective against the new strain, and thus it increases risk of new lockdowns which leads to an economic hit. Another good thing is that South Africa has been open and transparent about the virus strain which means that countries can react faster and because societies are better prepared the impact overall on the economy such be less than initially during the pandemic.

Source: Financial Times

The online vs offline companies trade is expressed today

Due to the rising probability of lockdowns, which was already in play before the news of the new virus strain, traders and investors are again pulling out the pandemic playbook on equities. The chart below shows Nasdaq 100 futures vs Stoxx 50 futures over the past 10 trading days which expresses the online/technology vs offline/physical companies. The idea is that online companies can better weather new lockdowns where as companies operating in the physical world obviously are more impacted by travel restrictions and potential lockdowns. Smaller companies are also more vulnerable which is why Russell 2000 futures and the global index on small cap companies are under pressure today. Liquidity is thin today going into the weekend and being on the backside of Thanksgiving in the US (trading in US equities ends today at 1300 EST) and thus the initial reaction in equities was aggressive, whereas a couple of hours into trading European equity futures have bounced back somewhat.

Source: Bloomberg

Not surprisingly the worst performing sectors today in Europe are energy (lower demand for oil), financials (potential hit to loan books), industrials (more supply constraints and lower demand), consumer discretionary (lower demand for cars and other large consumer items), where as health care, utilities, and technology companies are less off as these sectors are necessities and can weather lockdowns better.

Source: Bloomberg

China equities continue to weighed down by bad stories

Besides the risk-off trade in equities several key stories have hit Chinese equities over the past 24 hours. The Chinese government has asked Didi Global to delist from NYSE emphasizing once again the hidden volatility in Chinese listed stocks in the US. Our view remains that investors that want exposure to China should do that through mainland and Hong Kong listings.

Stocks related to the housing market was impacted negatively today from news that Evergrande’s founder Hui Ka Yan has sold shares worth $344mn which is seen as a negative for the company and the industry’s outlook, as the Chinese government is urging Hui to use his own wealth to bolster the company’s finances.

Finally, Meituan has reported Q3 earnings showing revenue growth of 38% as expected but operating margins under pressure leading to widening losses as the technology crackdown and “Common Prosperity” are forcing Meituan to increase operating expenses on social security for its gig workers.

Appendix: 5-year chart on Nasdaq 100 and Stoxx 50 futures

Source: Bloomberg

Quarterly Outlook 2024 Q3

Sandcastle economics

01 / 05

  • Macro: Sandcastle economics

    Invest wisely in Q3 2024: Discover SaxoStrats' insights on navigating a stable yet fragile global economy.

    Read article
  • Bonds: What to do until inflation stabilises

    Discover strategies for managing bonds as US and European yields remain rangebound due to uncertain inflation and evolving monetary policies.

    Read article
  • Equities: Are we blowing bubbles again

    Explore key trends and opportunities in European equities and electrification theme as market dynamics echo 2021's rally.

    Read article
  • FX: Risk-on currencies to surge against havens

    Explore the outlook for USD, AUD, NZD, and EM carry trades as risk-on currencies are set to outperform in Q3 2024.

    Read article
  • Commodities: Energy and grains in focus as metals pause

    Energy and grains to shine as metals pause. Discover key trends and market drivers for commodities in Q3 2024.

    Read article

The Saxo Bank Group entities each provide execution-only service and access to Analysis permitting a person to view and/or use content available on or via the website is not intended to and does not change or expand on this. Such access and use are at all times subject to (i) The Terms of Use; (ii) Full Disclaimer; (iii) The Risk Warning; (iv) the Rules of Engagement and (v) Notices applying to Saxo News & Research and/or its content in addition (where relevant) to the terms governing the use of hyperlinks on the website of a member of the Saxo Bank Group by which access to Saxo News & Research is gained. Such content is therefore provided as no more than information. In particular no advice is intended to be provided or to be relied on as provided nor endorsed by any Saxo Bank Group entity; nor is it to be construed as solicitation or an incentive provided to subscribe for or sell or purchase any financial instrument. All trading or investments you make must be pursuant to your own unprompted and informed self-directed decision. As such no Saxo Bank Group entity will have or be liable for any losses that you may sustain as a result of any investment decision made in reliance on information which is available on Saxo News & Research or as a result of the use of the Saxo News & Research. Orders given and trades effected are deemed intended to be given or effected for the account of the customer with the Saxo Bank Group entity operating in the jurisdiction in which the customer resides and/or with whom the customer opened and maintains his/her trading account. Saxo News & Research does not contain (and should not be construed as containing) financial, investment, tax or trading advice or advice of any sort offered, recommended or endorsed by Saxo Bank Group and should not be construed as a record of our trading prices, or as an offer, incentive or solicitation for the subscription, sale or purchase in any financial instrument. To the extent that any content is construed as investment research, you must note and accept that the content was not intended to and has not been prepared in accordance with legal requirements designed to promote the independence of investment research and as such, would be considered as a marketing communication under relevant laws.

Please read our disclaimers:
- Notification on Non-Independent Investment Research (
- Full disclaimer (
- Full disclaimer (

Business Hills Park – Building 4,
4th Floor, office 401, Dubai Hills Estate, P.O. Box 33641, Dubai, UAE

Contact Saxo

Select region


Trade responsibly
All trading carries risk. Read more. To help you understand the risks involved we have put together a series of Key Information Documents (KIDs) highlighting the risks and rewards related to each product. Read more

Saxo Bank A/S is licensed by the Danish Financial Supervisory Authority and operates in the UAE under a representative office license issued by the Central bank of the UAE.

The content and material made available on this website and the linked sites are provided by Saxo Bank A/S. It is the sole responsibility of the recipient to ascertain the terms of and comply with any local laws or regulation to which they are subject.

The UAE Representative Office of Saxo Bank A/S markets the Saxo Bank A/S trading platform and the products offered by Saxo Bank A/S.