By Mark DeCambre
Wall Street stocks skidded sharply lower on Black Friday as investors reacted to fresh travel bans resulting from the discovery in South Africa of a new variant of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average /zigman2/quotes/210598065/realtime DJIA +0.08% , the S&P 500 index /zigman2/quotes/210599714/realtime SPX +0.25% and the Nasdaq Composite /zigman2/quotes/210598365/realtime COMP +0.95% were all down by at least 2% for the day, the major U.S. shopping day known as Black Friday on which retailers are traditionally perceived to enter the black for the year.
Looking beneath the hood, the damage was widespread.
The S&P 500’s energy sector /zigman2/quotes/210600521/delayed XX:SP500.10 -1.99% closed down 4% as crude-oil prices /zigman2/quotes/206420077/composite XLE -2.02% trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange saw double-digit percentage declines .
The Energy Select Sector SPDR Fund /zigman2/quotes/206420077/composite XLE -2.02% was down 4%. The fund was led by declines in APA Corp. /zigman2/quotes/200648444/composite APA +0.82% , Occidental Petroleum /zigman2/quotes/207018272/composite OXY -0.82% , Devon Energy Corp. /zigman2/quotes/209479244/composite DVN -0.68% and Marathon Oil Corp. /zigman2/quotes/205031829/composite MRO -1.56% .
Financials were the second worst Black Friday performer among the 11 sectors in the S&P 500 index /zigman2/quotes/210599714/realtime SPX +0.25% , dragged down by a retreat in yields for Treasurys, notably the 10-year Treasury note /zigman2/quotes/211347051/realtime BX:TMUBMUSD10Y 0.00% .
The S&P 500’s financial sector /zigman2/quotes/210599854/delayed XX:SP500.40 +0.05% was off 3.3%. The Financial Select Sector SPDR ETF /zigman2/quotes/209660484/composite XLF 0.00% , which tracks the sector index, was being led lower by declines in American Express Co. /zigman2/quotes/203805826/composite AXP +10.54% , Comerica Inc. /zigman2/quotes/207245846/composite CMA +0.75% , Huntington Bancshares Inc. /zigman2/quotes/209314988/composite HBAN +0.60% , Wells Fargo & Co. /zigman2/quotes/203790192/composite WFC +0.68% and Invesco /zigman2/quotes/200294387/composite IVZ -0.92% .
Drug manufacturers rose, with shares of Moderna /zigman2/quotes/205619834/composite MRNA -2.01% , which makes one of the most widely administered COVID vaccines, skyrocketing more than 20%. Pfizer shares PFE advanced by 6%.
However, those gains didn’t offer much of a lift to pharmaceutical-related funds, including Invesco Dynamic Pharmaceuticals ETF /zigman2/quotes/200345932/composite PJP -0.38% , which ended down 1.6%; iShares U.S. Pharmaceuticals ETF /zigman2/quotes/203867177/composite IHE -0.46% , up just 0.2% on the day; and SPDR S&P Pharmaceuticals ETF /zigman2/quotes/206833245/composite XPH +0.46% , down 1.9%.
The popular airline-related exchanged-traded fund U.S. Global JETS, which has come to serve as a good indicator of the market’s view on the progress out of pandemic-related restrictions and toward economic recovery, closed down 7.2%.
Aircraft maker Boeing Co. /zigman2/quotes/208579720/composite BA -0.73% retreated by 5% , and Southwest Airlines /zigman2/quotes/201071949/composite LUV +1.51% stock was more than 4% lower. Shares of American Airlines /zigman2/quotes/209207041/composite AAL -1.08% slumped more steeply, losing 8.8%. Meanwhile, Expedia shares /zigman2/quotes/202291990/composite EXPE -0.47% were down9.5% and United Airlines /zigman2/quotes/205037281/composite UAL -1.46% traded off almost 10%.
A separate exchange-traded fund that is sometimes used to represent optimism about changes in activity tied to COVID restrictions, the ETFMG Travel Tech ETF /zigman2/quotes/216415466/composite AWAY +1.34% , was down 6.4% on Friday.
However, a number of stay-at-home stocks were outperforming the broader market. Videoconference company Zoom Video Communications Inc. /zigman2/quotes/211319643/composite ZM +3.59% rose 5.7%, while streaming giant Netflix /zigman2/quotes/202353025/composite NFLX -1.12% gained 1.1%.
The Direxion Work From Home ETF, /zigman2/quotes/219230438/composite WFH +0.67% lost 1.2%. Declines in Avaya Holdings Corp. /zigman2/quotes/209008523/composite AVYA -8.07% , Xerox Holdings Corp. /zigman2/quotes/201169674/composite XRX -2.04% and Progress Software Corp. /zigman2/quotes/205828109/composite PRGS +0.06% were the worst performers in the ETF.
Crypto prices also were taking it on the chin.
Bitcoin /zigman2/quotes/31322028/realtime BTCUSD +0.75% was down 5% over the past 24 hours, trading at $54,840 midday Friday on CoinDesk. The cryptocurrency is down more than 20% from its all-time high of $68,990 on Nov. 10, meeting a common criterion for a bear market in an asset.
Meanwhile, the U.S. dollar was down 0.7% on the session as measured by the ICE U.S. Dollar Index /zigman2/quotes/210598269/delayed DXY +0.08% , dragging it down from near a 16-month high.