Close Update: US Stocks, Treasury Yields Sink With Crude Oil as Concern Mounts Over New COVID-19 Strain

US stocks plummeted with crude oil and government bond yields Friday amid concern a new COVID-19 variant may prove more infectious, prompting investors to reassess the path of the global economic recovery.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged 2.5% to 34,899.34, with S&P 500 sinking 2.3% to 4,594.62 and the Nasdaq Composite 2.2% lower at 15,491.66.

Energy, financials and industrials bore the brunt of the sell-off, with all sectors but healthcare in the red. US stock markets ended a holiday-shortened session at 1 pm ET.

The 10-year US Treasury yield fell 15 basis points to 1.49%. West Texas Intermediate crude oil dropped $9.49 to $68.8 per barrel.

The World Health Organization was scheduled to meet on Friday to assess a potentially problematic new COVID-19 virus strain detected in South Africa, according to media reports.

Shares of Moderna (MRNA) soared 21%, the most on S&P 500 and the Nasdaq, while a different COVID-19 vaccine supplier, Pfizer (PFE) gained 6.1%. Zoom Video Communications (ZM), another pandemic play, jumped 5.7%.

On the Dow, Boeing (BA) was among the worst performers, with shares down 5.4% amid new curbs on travel to southern Africa. .

From midday Friday, the UK placed South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini, Namibia, and Zimbabwe on its so-called travel red list, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Sajid Javid said in a speech to the parliament on Friday. France, Israel, Singapore, and Japan have also reportedly announced travel restrictions for parts of Africa.

Delta Air Lines (DAL) shares slumped 8.4%, with Southwest Airlines (LUV) down 4.2% and JetBlue Airways (JBLU) lower by 5.8%. Cruise operators Carnival (CCL) and Norwegian Cruise Line (NCLH) dropped 11% each.

In the metals markets, gold was up 0.1% to $1,785.30 per troy ounce, silver fell 1.6% to $23.10 an ounce and copper was down 3.5% to $4.31 per pound.