Thursday, January 27

Dow Jones falls 900 points in what is now its worst day of the year due to fears of a new variant of COVID

Asian markets were also hit hard in Friday’s trading.

Andrew Burton / Getty Images

US stocks fell sharply on Friday as a new variant of COVID found in South Africa sparked nervous markets..

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 905.04 points, or 2.53%, on what is now its worst day of the year, closing at 34,899.34; and the S&P 500 lost 2.27% to close at 4,594.62.

The Dow Jones is a stock index that measures the performance of the 30 companies with the largest capitalization that are listed on the United States stock market, on the New York Stock Exchange.

The S&P 500 is a stock index that compiles the performance of the 500 largest companies in the United States.

The downward movements came after World Health Organization officials on Thursday warned of a new variant of Covid-19 that was detected in South Africa.

The new variant contains more mutations in the spike protein – the cell-binding component of the virus – than the Delta variant, which is also highly contagious. Because of these mutations, scientists fear that vaccine resistance might have increased, although the WHO said more research is needed.

On Friday, the WHO called the new strain a worrying variant and named it Omicron.

The UK temporarily suspended flights from six African countries due to the variant. Israel banned travel to various nations after reporting a case in a traveler. Likewise, two cases were identified in Hong Kong and Belgium also confirmed one case.

On the other hand, Asian markets were also hit hard in Friday’s trading, with Japan’s Nikkei 225 and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index falling more than 2%. Bitcoin, the first and largest cryptocurrency in the world today, was also affected, as it fell 8% as reported by CNBC.

The Nikkei 225 is the main stock index that follows the evolution of the Japanese market. It is made up of the 225 most liquid companies listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange.

The Hang Seng Index is the main Chinese stock index on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. It is made up of 42 companies representing 65% of the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.

Oil prices also fell, and is now trading below $ 70 a barrel.

Travel-related company stocks were the hardest hit. Carnival Corp. and Royal Caribbean fell 11% and 13.2%, respectively. United Airlines fell more than 9%, while American Airlines fell 8.8%. Boeing lost more than 5% and Marriott International fell almost 6.5%.

Bank stocks also fell amid fears of a slowdown in economic activity and falling rates. Bank of America fell 3.9% and Citigroup fell 2.7%.

On the other hand, investors passed their money to the companies of vaccine manufacturers, as Moderna shares rose more than 20% and Pfizer shares rose 6.1%.

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