Benchmarks recorded the worst Black Friday performance in decades, as reports of a new COVID variant spooked investors raising concerns on economic recovery. How Did the Benchmarks Perform? The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI) declined 905.04 points, or 2.5%, to close at 34,899.34, its worst single-day decline since Oct 28, last year. The majority of stocks in the blue-chip index ended in the red, led by 8.6% decline in shares of American Express Company ( AXP Quick Quote AXP - Free Report) . American Express carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here. The S&P 500 fell 106.84 points, or 2.3%, to close at 4,594.62 on Friday. All the 11 major sectors of the broader index closed in the red, with the energy and financials sectors heading the slump declining 4% and 3.3%, respectively. The Nasdaq Composite Index closed at 15,491.66, after declining 353.57 points, or 2.2%. The tech-laden Nasdaq’s biggest decliner was Pinduoduo Inc. ( PDD Quick Quote PDD - Free Report) , dropping 15.9% despite an upbeat earnings report. All three benchmarks witnessed a steep decline as coronavirus fears crippled travel, tourism and discretionary stocks. However, work-from-home service providers and vaccine makers edged up. On Friday, the fear-gauge CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) jumped 54%, to close at 28.62, its highest level in two months. Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by a 5.84-to-1 ratio and a 3.96-to-1 ratio favored decliners on the Nasdaq. The S&P 500 posted seven new 52-week highs and 23 new lows, while the Nasdaq Composite recorded 18 new highs and 334 new lows. Omicron Variant of COVID Slams Black Friday Rally On Friday, the World Health Organization declared that the new COVID variant, (B. 1.1.529 variant) also known as omicron first detected in South Africa, as a “variant of concern.” The declaration spooked investors and overshadowed the Black Friday shopping day. The new variant is the primary cause for the recent spike in Europe, the strain has also been found in Hong Kong in travelers who returned from South Africa. Stocks related to travel and tourism were hit the hardest, shares of Booking Holdings Inc. ( BKNG Quick Quote BKNG - Free Report) and Marriott International, Inc. ( MAR Quick Quote MAR - Free Report) declined at least 6.5%, whileUnited Airlines Holdings, Inc. ( UAL Quick Quote UAL - Free Report) and Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. ( RCL Quick Quote RCL - Free Report) fell 9.6% and 13.2% respectively. However, vaccine makers and companies providing work-from-home services rose sharply. Moderna, Inc. (MRNA) led the rally among vaccine providers rising 20.6%, and Zoom Video Communications, Inc. ( ZM Quick Quote ZM - Free Report) and Peloton Interactive, Inc. ( PTON Quick Quote PTON - Free Report) edged up 5.7%. Weekly Roundup For the week ending Nov 26, the Dow, the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq fell 2%, 2.2% and 3.5%, respectively. The market was closed on Thursday for Thanksgiving and ended at 1 p.m. eastern time on Friday on account of an extended holiday. Benchmarks had a rough week, an expectation of sooner than expected interest rates hike with the renomination of Jerome Powell as Federal Reserve chair by President Joe Biden and strong economic data.