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Stocks End Volatile Week at a Loss as Omicron Weighs on Investors

Equity markets declined on Friday, with the Dow Jones, S&P 500 and Nasdaq nursing losses.

The Dow and broader U.S. stock market declined on Friday, ending a volatile week on a negative note over concerns about the Omicron coronavirus variant.

Wall Street’s major indices were lower at the close, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DIA) declining 59.71 points, or 0.2%, to 34,580.08.

The broad S&P 500 Index (SPY) of large-cap stocks fell 0.49% to settle at 4,538.43. Most sectors finished in negative territory.

Meanwhile, the technology-focused Nasdaq Composite Index (QQQ) plunged 1.9% to close at 15,085.47.

A measure of implied volatility known as the CBOE VIX (VXX) rose sharply on Friday. The so-called “investor fear index” reached an intraday high of 35.32 on a scale of 1-100, where 20 represents the historical average. It would eventually settle up 9.7% at 30.67.

In commodities, oil prices were mixed on Friday, as U.S. West Texas Intermediate futures fell 24 cents, or 0.4%, to $66.26 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent, the international futures contract, rose 21 cents, or 0.3%, to $69.88 a barrel.

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In precious metals, gold prices climbed, as the February futures contract rose $21.20, or 1.2%, to $1,783.90 a troy ounce on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange. Silver futures advanced 17 cents, or 0.7%, to trade at $22.48 a troy ounce.

The Final Word: Equity markets remain on edge over concerns that a new coronavirus variant first identified in South Africa could inflict more harm on public health and the economy. However, scientists in South Africa say that the new variant produces only mild symptoms and shouldn’t be cause for alarm.