(Bloomberg) -- Asia’s stock benchmark was on track for its worst day since March as worries over the economic impact from a new Covid-19 variant sparked a broad rout that was exacerbated by thin liquidity.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index slumped as much as 1.9%, with tech and financials being the biggest drags. Japanese equities tumbled to lead losses in the region, with some traders away for Thanksgiving celebrations. U.S. futures extended declines, with contracts on S&P 500 and Dow Jones falling by more than 1%, while volatility spiked.

READ: Havens Rally on Concern New Covid Variant Will Derail Recovery

“The fact we have North America off the desks means there’s a wall of buyers missing” at a time when there are “scary” headlines about the new Covid-19 variant, said Kyle Rodda, an analyst at IG Markets.

The variant recently discovered in South Africa carries an unusually large number of mutations and is “clearly very different” from previous incarnations, Tulio de Oliveira, a bio-informatics professor who runs gene-sequencing institutions at two South African universities, said at a briefing on Thursday.

“Even before this news, virus cases were back on the rise in the U.S. and Europe, so investors are now wary of the possibility that, with a new variant, infections could spread all at once,” said Masahiro Ichikawa, chief market strategist at Sumitomo Mitsui DS Asset Management.

The latest virus concerns deal a fresh blow to Asian equities already hurt by worries over weak earnings prospects, an economic slowdown in China and supply chain concerns. Down more than 3% this year, the regional gauge looks poised to end lower for 2021, even as peers in the U.S. and Europe have climbed at least 20% each.

The Hang Seng Tech Index plunged as much as 3.2% on Friday. Adding to worries for China tech investors, the country’s regulators asked Didi Global Inc.’s top executives to devise a plan to delist from U.S. bourses, people familiar with the matter said. Japan’s Nikkei 225 sank 3% as a stronger yen also weighed on stocks. India’s S&P BSE Sensex and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index lost as much as 2.5% each.

“The word is that the new variant is very infectious,” said Nobuhiko Kuramochi, a market strategist at Mizuho Securities Co. “There’s worry that if the existing vaccines don’t work, people will have to resort to lockdowns again.”

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.