Benchmarks closed witnesses a steep decline on Wednesday after President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed the first case of omicron in the United States. How Did the Benchmarks Perform? The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI) dropped 461.68 points, or 1.3%, to close at 34,022.04, after hitting an intraday peak at 35,004.64. salesforce.com, inc. ( CRM Quick Quote CRM - Free Report) that carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) remained the blue-chip index’s lead decliner for the third consecutive session dropping 11.7%. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here. The S&P 500 declined 53.96 points, or 1.2%, to close at 4,513.04 on Wednesday, with only the utilities sector ending in the green edging slightly upward by 0.2%, while 10 of its 11 major sectors closed in the red. The communication services sector led the decline with nearly 2% decline, followed by consumer discretionary that lost 1.9% in the session. The Nasdaq Composite Index closed at 15,254.05, after declining 283.64 points, or 1.8%, however, it did touch an intraday peak at 15,816.82. On Wednesday, the fear-gauge CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) increased 14.5%, to close at 31.12. Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by a 2.26-to-1 ratio, while a 2.96-to-1 ratio favored decliners on the Nasdaq. A total of 14.2 billion shares were traded yesterday, much higher than the last 20-session average of 11.3 billion. Markets Take U-turn as Omicron Hits America On Wednesday, benchmarks were making headway to a solid rebound from the virus driven slump in the last few days of November, but the news confirming first case of the omicron variant of the coronavirus in California drove investors to sell off. President Biden’s chief medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci said that “the California and San Francisco departments of public health and the CDC have confirmed that a recent case of COVID-19 among an individual in California was caused by the omicron variant.” In spite of the fact that the emergence of the variant in the country would eventually happen, markets tumbled on inflation fears and Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell’s latest remarks to taper financial aids sooner than expected. While the World Health Organization (WHO) is expected to have more information on the heavily mutated Omicron variant within days, it has already spread to at least 23 countries. However, WHO believes that the existing COVID-19 vaccines will work against omicron, though safety protocols should be followed. The Biden administration is expected to announce further travel restrictions and impose testing requirements for international travelers. Travel and retails stocks took a hit on Wednesday. Share of American Airlines Group Inc. ( AAL Quick Quote AAL - Free Report) fell nearly 8%, closely followed by competitors United Airlines Holdings, Inc. ( UAL Quick Quote UAL - Free Report) and Delta Air Lines, Inc. ( DAL Quick Quote DAL - Free Report) , while Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. ( RCL Quick Quote RCL - Free Report) also closed the session nearly 8% lower. Retailers like Nordstrom, Inc. ( JWN Quick Quote JWN - Free Report) and Macy's, Inc. ( M Quick Quote M - Free Report) closed at least 4.6% lower. Private Payrolls Makes Significant Additions in November Yesterday ADP Research Institute and Moody’s Analytics released the National Employment Report which stated that private payrolls rose by 534,000 in November, surpassing the consensus estimate of 506,000. The leisure and hospitality sector added 136,000 new jobs, followed by professional and business services with 110,000, and trade, transportation and utilities with 78,000. The report is a precursor to the closely watched government’s payrolls data for November that is scheduled for released on Dec 3. Manufacturing Activities Edged Up On Wednesday, the Institute for Supply Management reported that its Manufacturing PMI rose to 61.1% in in November from 60.8% in the prior month. The index has been moving upward for the 18th straight month despite supply chain bottlenecks and biggest surge in inflation. New orders and production topped the 60% mark in November and the employment gauge rose to 53.3% from 52%. In a separate report, the government U.S. Census Bureau reported that construction spending grew 0.2% in October, d at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $1,598 billion.