Global stocks tumbled today and oil fell below $80 a barrel after news of a possibly vaccine-resistant coronavirus variant sent investors scurrying to the safety of bonds, the yen and the Swiss franc.

European stocks plummeted, with the CAC in Paris ending 4.75% lower, the DAX in Frankfurt down 4.15% and London's FTSE index down 3.64%.

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.

The Dublin market also ended weaker - with shares in Ryanair sinking 12%, while Dalata Hotel Group lost 7.88% and ICG shed 4.78%.

The banking shares also closed lower, with AIB down 8.64% and Bank of Ireland down 7.17%.

Oil and gas producers dropped 5.8%, while miners tumbled 4.4% as oil and metal prices lost ground as reports of the new virus variant fuelled economic slowdown worries.

The Dow dragged Wall Street's main indexes lower today, with travel, bank and commodity-linked stocks bearing the brunt of a selloff.

Cruise operators Carnival Corp, Royal Caribbean Cruises and Norwegian Cruise Line plunged more than 9% each, while shares in United Airlines, Delta Air Lines and American Airlines slumped almost 10%.

Earlier in Asian trade, shares in Tokyo closed 2.5% lower while the Hong Kong market fell 2.6%.