US oil prices plunge 10% amid fears of ‘most contagious ever’ Now COVID variant
The price of crude oil in the US fell about 10 percent a year on Friday as global concerns about the Now COVID variant mount and Joe Biden imposed new travel bans.
West Texas Intermediate crude futures, the US oil benchmark, fell $68.85 a barrel on Friday, after soaring to near historic highs in recent weeks.
It had started the day with about $77 dollars.
The sudden drop in oil prices came as the Dow Jones Industrial Average reported a 1,000-point drop, or about a 2.5 percent drop, its worst drop of the year. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq both reported a 2.2 percent drop.
The blow to the national economy came when the World Health Organization warned of the ‘most contagious’ strain of COVID-19 yet, called Nu or Omicron, in South Africa.
West Texas Intermediate crude futures serve as a benchmark for US oil prices. Cost per barrel fell by about 10 percent on Friday
The Dow Jones Dropped More Than 1000 Points Friday Morning
There are no recorded cases of the variant in the US yet.
Most of the warnings come from the UK, where an unnamed senior expert from the Health Security Agency, the UK’s COVID authority, has described the variant as ‘the worst we’ve seen yet’.
The US has banned travel to South Africa and seven other neighboring countries after European countries began imposing travel restrictions and shares in travel and aerospace took a hit.
Canada has also done the same, banning anyone who has visited any of the eight countries in the past 14 days from crossing its borders.
Boeing reported a drop of more than 6 percent on Friday afternoon, and Delta Air Lines and United Airlines, the only U.S. airlines with schedules to and from South Africa, also took a dramatic blow. CNBC reported.
Delta’s shares fell more than 10 percent and United fell 11 percent. American Airlines also fell by almost 10 percent.
United had 87 nonstop flights to South Africa scheduled for December, and Delta had set up 35.
Shares of Boeing fell by more than 6 percent, while American Airlines was down nearly 10 . plummeted
The airline industry took a hit amid the frenetic holiday rush that saw millions of trips
“Delta will continue to work closely with our government partners to evaluate any changes to US policy,” the airline said in a statement.
The blow to airlines came when millions of American travelers experienced long waits and delays at airports across the country for the Thanksgiving holiday.
The instability of the current economy is only further clouded by rising inflation – the highest since 1990 at 6.2 percent – pushing the price of basic goods and services soaring.
The consumer price index rose 6.2 percent in October 2021 from a year earlier – the highest since 1990
The consumer price index shows an increase in prices in every category from used cars, washing equipment, furniture to food
The variant, B.1.1.529, is said to have originated in Botswana – from where there are no direct flights to the US – and is also found in neighboring South Africa.
The Nu variant called omicron was first spotted in Botswana before spreading to South Africa. Health experts believe it is the most contagious variant of COVID yet
Hong Kong reported a case after a passenger who had recently traveled from South Africa was found to be infected with the variant and then infected another person while in the same hotel, in quarantine.
Israel has also identified a case “in a person returning from Malawi,” with “two more cases of people returning from abroad” being quarantined, the country’s health ministry said Friday.
dr. Eric Feigl-Ding, an epidemiologist and senior fellow with the Federation of American Scientists, said initial data from the variant were worrying and needed border restrictions.
“Looks like vaccine evasion could be real with this variant,” he tweeted, noting that the two patients in Hong Kong who had the variant had both received a double shot with the Pfizer vaccine.
Both Pfizer and Moderna have said they can update their vaccines quickly if they need to use the new variant.
The US had recovered from a spike in COVID-19 cases that began in late August due to the deadly Delta strain.
The nation reported about 34,522 new cases and 394 deaths in the past day, according to Johns Hopkins University.
Nearly 600,000 new cases and more than 7,000 new deaths were reported in the past week.
More than 74 percent of eligible Americans, including children ages 5 and older, have received at least one shot of the vaccine, and about 60 percent of the population has been fully vaccinated against the virus.