Dow falls 700 points as new coronavirus variant threatens to derail global economic recovery

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Dow falls 700 points as new coronavirus variant threatens to derail global economic recovery
Stocks slid in post-Thanksgiving trade Friday.AP Photo/Richard Drew
  • Dow industrials tumbled 700 points as a new coronavirus variant spreads from South Africa.
  • Travel restrictions are being put in place in the EU, UK, Japan and other places worldwide.

US stocks sank Friday as investors returning from the Thanksgiving holiday worried about the economic recovery because of rapidly rising cases of COVID from a new strain identified in South Africa.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell by 700 points, tumbling alongside the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq in what will be a shortened session. Trading will close at 1 p.m. Eastern following Thursday's holiday closure.

Here's where US indexes stood at 9:30 a.m. on Friday:

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Investors returned from their break to see travel restrictions being put in place worldwide because of a variant of coronavirus called B.1.1.529 that appears to be spreading from South Africa. The World Health Organization on Friday held a special meeting, saying not much is known about the variant yet.

"What we do know is that this variant has a large number of mutations. And the concern is that when you have so many mutations, it can have an impact on how the virus behaves," said Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO's technical lead on COVID-19, in a live streamed update.

The European Union, the UK, Japan and other countries have issued travel restrictions from South Africa as well as from neighboring countries, sending travel stocks sliding.

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Meanwhile, shares of vaccine makers and stay-at-home stock plays spiked.

Around the markets, gold rose 0.9% to $1,804 per ounce. The 10-year yield dropped 11 basis points to 1.53%.

Oil prices tumbled, with West Texas Intermediate crude off 5.6% at $74.11 per barrel.

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Bitcoin fell by 7.4% to $54,616.55.

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