European stocks ended the week lower amid investors' concerns about a new COVID-19 strain feared to be more contagious, with Belgium confirming one case of the new virus variant.
France's CAC was down 4.8%, Germany's DAX fell 4.2% and Stoxx Europe 600 slumped 3.7%. The FTSE 100 in the UK ended 3.6% lower and the Swiss Market Index was down 2%.
South Africa criticized the UK's decision to ban air travel from six southern African countries, calling it "rushed" amid concerns about the emergence of the B.1.1.529 COVID-19 variant, Reuters reported.
Meanwhile, the European Commission will recommend a ban on air travel from southern Africa amid concerns about the virus strain, EC President Ursula von der Leyen said in a tweet.
The European Central Bank is sticking to its plan of ending the Pandemic Emergency Purchase Programme in March 2022 even as COVID-19 cases surge, and will discuss alternatives in December, Reuters reported Friday, citing ECB Vice President Luis de Guindos at an event in Spain. Purchases are expected to total 1.85 trillion euros ($2.1 trillion) by the program's conclusion.
Switzerland's gross domestic product climbed 1.7% in Q3 following growth of 1.8% growth in Q2, the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs said. The figure missed the 2% growth consensus.
On the corporate front, Volkswagen (VOW.F) shares fell nearly 5% as Green Mobility, a consortium of Volkswagen (VOW.F), Attestor and Pon launched a tender offer for Europcar Mobility's (EUCAR.PA) shares. The consortium is acquiring Europcar for 0.50 euros ($0.56) in cash per share, with potential for an additional 0.01 euros per share if buyers secure more than 90% of the company's share capital and voting rights at the end of the offer period.