âThe pandemic and the Covid variants remain one of the biggest risks to markets, and are likely to continue to inject volatility,â Keith Lerner, strategist at Truist, wrote in a note to clients.
Mr Lerner said a modest selloff was hardly unexpected, given the highs at which the shares traded. “We are not making any changes to our investment directions at this point,” he wrote, adding that consumers and businesses are now much better able to deal with virus restrictions.
West Texas Intermediate oil futures, the benchmark for U.S. crude, fell more than 13% to $ 68.04 a barrel, the lowest since early September. The price of oil has been particularly sensitive to virus restrictions that keep people at home. The drop comes just three days after the United States and five other countries announced a coordinated effort to dip into their national oil stocks, in an attempt to bring down gas prices.
Futures on Brent, the European benchmark, fell 11% to around $ 73 a barrel. But Mr Ganesh said UBS expects the price to rise to $ 90 a barrel by March, in part in hopes that fears over further virus restrictions will be temporary.
Demand for the relative safety of government bonds surged, pushing their prices up and their yields down. The 10-year US Treasury yield plunged 15 basis points, or 0.15 percentage point, to 1.48%, the largest single-day decline since March 2020. The yield on the German Bund, the Europe’s benchmark bond fell 9 basis points to minus 0.34 percent.
Echoing the market swings of the past year, stocks that have thrived under lockdowns and quarantines have risen, including Zoom and Peloton. Companies vulnerable to travel restrictions, like Carnival, the cruise line, and Boeing, the aircraft maker, have fallen.
In Asia, the Nikkei 225 in Japan closed down 2.5% and the Hang Seng index in Hong Kong was down 2.7%.