COVID fears spark Dow's biggest sell-off of 2021

Global stocks...oil...bitcoin....everything took a beating Friday in a holiday-shortened session - - after a new COVID-19 variant was discovered.

The Dow plunged 905 points - its worst day more than a year. The S&P 500 tumbled 106 points. The Nasdaq nosedived 305.

The new variant, which the World Health Organization designated the Greek letter Omicron, was discovered in South Africa. Little else is known but scientists say this variant may be able to evade immune responses and could be more transmissible.

Some countries are already tightening travel restrictions sparking widespread fear the global economy is headed for a detour.

And as Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Spartan Securities, puts it, fear is the market's worst enemy.

"Look at what's happening in the stock market today, if you look at the transportation averages, it's down almost four percent. That's a huge decline. And that, you know, certainly indicates that the fear out there is that we might have lower economic activity going forward. And if that happens, that means lower earnings."

U.S. air carriers, which just saw some international travel restrictions lifted, were hit over concerns people will be scared to travel again - just as the busy holiday

season ramps up. United Airlines shed 9-1/2 percent.

Friday - also known as Black Friday - was supposed to be retail's big kickoff to the holiday shopping season, but the variant reignited fear of a retail slowdown as well. Department store chain Macy's slumped more than 5 percent.

The chill went beyond stocks. Oil prices plunged 13% on Friday in the largest one-day drop since April 2020 on fear of slower demand. U.S. crude fell below $70 a barrel for the first time since September.

And bitcoin proved to be no save haven. A slide in the world's largest cryptocurrency left bitcoin 20 percent below its record high hit earlier this month.

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