Stocks around the world tumbled in the face of a new Covid-19 variant, which was labeled as a “variant of concern” by the World Health Organization.
US equities took a dive at the open and continued a downward path, resulting in a terrible day for the stock market and the worst day for the Dow in over a year. Oil prices were also badly hit.
The new variant has been detected in South Africa, Botswana, Hong Kong, Belgium and Israel, prompting some countries to put flight bans in place.
Over the summer, the Delta variant spooked consumers and weighed on sectors like leisure and hospitality. Now, investors and economists worry this new variant could do the same.
The Dow logged its worst performance since October 2020, falling 905 points, or 2.5%.
The S&P 500 had its worst day since February, closing down 2.3%.
For the Nasdaq Composite, it was the worst day since September. The index finished down 2.2%.
It was a shortened trading session that ended at 1 p.m. ET after the markets were closed Thursday for Thanksgiving. Traditionally, this half-day session is lower in trading volume, which can exacerbate the swings in the market.
Outside the US, European stocks closed down sharply lower after fears over the variant sparked a global sell-off. In the UK, the FTSE 100 ended the session 3.6% lower, Germany’s Dax was down 4% and the CAC 40 4.8% lower in France.
Asian stocks started the sell-off, with Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index dropping 2.7%, while Japan’s Nikkei 225 was down 2.5%. European and US markets quickly followed. Oil has fallen heavily too, with Brent crude, the global oil benchmark, down 10%.
Travel and airline stocks were among the big fallers in Europe.