The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 461 points on Wednesday as markets reacted to fears surrounding the first reported case of the Omicron COVID-19 variant in the United States. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo
Dec. 1 (UPI) -- U.S. markets plummeted Wednesday, giving up earlier gains as the first U.S. case of the Omicron COVID-19 variant was reported.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 461.68 points, or 1.34%, while the S&P 500 dropped 1.18% and the Nasdaq Composite declined 1.83% amid concerns over how the new variant could impact the economy.
During a briefing at the White House, Dr. Anthony Fauci, President Joe Biden's chief medical advisor, said the case was found in California, adding that "the individual is self-quarantining and all close contacts have been contacted and all close contacts, thus far, have tested negative."
The Dow had been up as much as 520 points at its highest before a swift reversal following the news as stocks affected by the threat of the variant declined.
Airline stocks took a hit following the news as American Airlines fell 7.97%, United Airlines dropped 7.57%, Delta declined 7.38% and Boeing slid 4.88%.
Other travel names struggled with Norwegian Cruise Line falling 8.82%, Carnival dropping 7.04%, Wynn resorts declining 6.11% and Hilton Worldwide closing the day down 3.78%.
Retailers also dropped with Kohl's sliding 5.77%, Nordstrom dropping 5.38%, Macy's falling 4.63% and Best Buy declining 4.23%.
The 10-year treasury yield rose as much as 9 basis points to around 1.5% early in the session providing a lift to bank stocks but fell to 1.41% later in the day as both JPMorgan Chase and Goldman Sachs dropped 0.59% and 0.66% respectively.
Markets also continued to react to Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said the central bank could speed up the tapering of its monthly bond purchase in response to the pandemic.
"In the last couple of weeks, we've had two major uncertainties being injected into the market place. One obviously was the news of the new variant, which we know very little about right now. And the second is the possibility of a more hawkish Fed," Niladri Mukherjee, Bank of America head of portfolio strategy, told Yahoo Finance.