U.S. stocks suffered from some of the biggest single-day declines of the year on Friday as a new, fast-spreading COVID-19 variant detected in South Africa triggered fresh fears that a resurgent coronavirus could scuttle the global economy’s recovery from the pandemic.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average – after briefly falling more than 1,000 points – ended the day down 905 points, or 2.5%, for its worst drop of the year, while the S&P 500 fell 2.27%, its worst day since February. The Nasdaq Composite dropped 2.23% in the shortened trading session on Friday (U.S. markets close at 1 p.m. ET due to the Thanksgiving holiday.)
The drop comes after health officials warned of a new variant found in South Africa that has a high number of mutations and has spread quickly among young people. The World Health Organization is due to meet Friday to discuss whether the strain is a concern and to determine whether to give it a name from the Greek alphabet.