ANKARA 

Major indexes in the US stock market opened with heavy losses on Monday as discovery of a new strain of COVID-19 in the UK caused worldwide panic.

As some 20 countries have banned all flights from the UK and more are expected to follow suit, the discovery clouded enthusiasm over the much-anticipated relief bill from the US that aims to stimulate the world’s largest economy.

After months of negotiations, bipartisan lawmakers in the US finally reached a deal late Sunday on a $900 stimulus package, which first sent optimism through markets around the world.

This, however, was short-lived as travel-related stocks such as airlines, hotels and cruise lines initially came under pressure early Monday before markets in Asia and Europe have turned negative.

In the US, the Dow Jones opened 261 points, or 0.8% lower to trade at 29,917 points at 09.33 a.m. EDT (1433 GMT), the S&P 500 was down 40 points, or 1.1%, to 3,669 points. The Nasdaq plummeted 106 points, or 0.8%, to 12,648 points.

Although seeing a short rally with the US stimulus, precious metals and crude oil also saw hits. Gold fell to as low as $1,855 and silver declined to $24.9 per ounce first before they both slightly recovered.

Price of Brent crude fell below the $50 per barrel psychological support level to $49.2 a barrel before climbing back up with worries amid the new strain of COVID-19 may cause shutdown in major oil consuming economies.

Despite its massive rally and hitting all-time high levels in recent days, Bitcoin was also down 3.6% trading around $22,700 mark.

US Congress is expected to vote on $900 billion relief package on Monday, together with a $1.4 trillion spending bill that will fund the US government and federal agencies until the end of 2021 fiscal year through Sept. 30.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Monday $600 stimulus checks will be mailed to Americans next week.

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