That’s how many points the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell on Black Friday, as investors grew wary about a new COVID-19 variant discovered in South Africa.
It was the worst day since October 2020 for the Dow Jones index, which tracks the values of 30 major stocks traded on the New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq to provide a view of the U.S. stock market and economy. Friday’s plunge, a 2.53% drop for the Dow, was due to traders’ fears that the new variant—like the delta variant before it—could touch off more restrictions and impede the global economic recovery, analysts said. The World Health Organization dubbed the newly discovered variant “omicron” on Friday afternoon.
“Giving a whole new meaning to Black Friday, financial markets took a big step back at the end of the week on concerns over the [new] variant from South Africa,” said Douglas Porter, chief economist at BMO Financial Group, in a commentary. “While it is far too early to draw any strong conclusions on the significance of this development, thin holiday markets and earlier big gains meant investors were in little mood for details.”
The New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq closed early Friday because of the Thanksgiving holiday. The variant news exposed some vulnerability for stocks, which have generally done well in the pandemic-era economy—so well, in fact, that some experts were warning that their extremely high values could be a bubble.
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