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Fears of COVID Variant Slam Stock Market

Dow drops more than 2%, and other major indexes in similar straits
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Nov 26, 2021 7:01 AM CST
Updated Nov 26, 2021 8:53 AM CST
Dow Futures Drop 800 Points as COVID Variant Emerges
A passenger walks through International Arrivals, at London's Heathrow Airport, Friday, Nov. 26, 2021.   (AP Photo/Alberto Pezzali)

(Newser) Update: Fears of a newly discovered COVID variant has indeed led to a brutal start for the stock market. The Dow plunged about 800 points at the open on Friday, more than 2%, per the AP, while the S&P 500 and Nasdaq also fell, though by smaller percentages. Our original story from earlier in the morning follows:

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Global stocks and oil prices tumbled Friday after South Africa found a fast-spreading coronavirus variant and the European Union proposed suspending air travel from southern Africa. London's benchmark fell by an unusually wide margin of 3.3% at the opening and Tokyo lost 2.5%, the AP reports. Shanghai, Frankfurt, and Hong Kong also declined. Dow Jones futures dipped 800 points ahead of the market opening in the US. Oil prices plunged, with US. crude off 6.7% at $73.22 per barrel and the international Brent benchmark off 5.6% at $77.64, both unusually large moves for a single day. Oil prices plunged during the initial outbreak of the pandemic in 2020 because travel restrictions reduced demand for fuel.

Airlines shares were hammered, with Lufthansa off 12.4%, IAG, parent of British Airways and Iberia, off 14.4%, Air France-KLM down 8.9%, and easyJet falling 10.9% The World Health Organization cautioned not to jump to conclusions too fast. Speaking before the EU announcement, Dr. Michael Ryan, the head of emergencies at the WHO said that "it’s really important that there are no knee-jerk responses." “We’ve seen in the past, the minute there’s any kind of mention of any kind of variation and everyone is closing borders and restricting travel. It’s really important that we remain open, and stay focused,” Ryan said. The UK, however, announced that it was banning flights from South Africa and five other southern African countries effective at noon on Friday, per the AP. (Read more COVID variants stories.)

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