Asian stocks have faltered as unease over a new coronavirus strain that was shutting much of the United Kingdom offset news of congressional agreement on a long-awaited US stimulus bill.

Sterling slid 1.1 per cent to $US1.3370 after several European countries closed their borders to the UK as the country entered a tougher lockdown to fight a new strain of coronavirus.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson will chair an emergency response meeting on Monday to discuss international travel and the flow of freight in and out of Britain.

That combined with the lack of a Brexit deal to cut one per cent off FTSE futures, while EUROSTOXX 50 futures shed 1.5 per cent in early Asian trading on Monday.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan dipped 0.2 per cent after hitting a string of record peaks last week.

Japan’s Nikkei reversed early gains to be down 0.6 per cent, off its highest since April 1991.

News from the US that agreement had been reached by congressional leaders on a $US900 billion COVID-19 relief bill saw futures for the S&P 500 jump at first, only to fade to a loss of 0.1 per cent as the session progressed.

Gold prices gained 0.8 per cent to $US1,895 an ounce and US crude fell $US1.45 to $US47.65 a barrel, while Brent crude futures dropped $US1.53 to $US50.73.