All major United States stock indices were down 1% at early trading Friday, suggesting a downbeat conclusion to a volatile week for stocks and equities amid COVID-19 concerns and a Federal Reserve (Fed) policy shift.
The Dow Jones industrial average fell 375 points, or 1.04%, to 35,524 at 9.40 a.m. EDT. The S&P 500 was down 48, or 1.02%, to 4,620.
The Nasdaq plummeted 180 points, or 1.2%, to 14,997, putting the Nasdaq on track for its third weekly drop in the last four.
The VIX volatility index, known as the fear index, jumped 10% to 22.61.
The dollar index was slightly up 0.12% to 96.16, while the yield on 10-year U.S. Treasury notes declined 2.6% to 1.385%.
Precious metals were on the rise with gold adding 0.5% to $1,808 per ounce and silver increasing 0.4% to $22.59.
Crude prices were down around 1.7%, with Brent crude trading at $73.76 per barrel and U.S. benchmark West Texas Intermediate crude at $71.17.
Traders become increasingly worried about the spread of the Omicron variant and what it could mean for the US economic recovery as well as recent economic trends such as high inflation and supply chain snarls.
They also are pondering the fallout from the Fed's decision Wednesday to accelerate shut off stimulus in March, which would open the door to rate increases sooner than expected to get a handle on inflation.
Markets rallied immediately after the central bank announcement, but fell in Thursday's trading with tech shares taking the brunt, a trend that appeared to continue in the final session of the week.
About 20 minutes into trading, the benchmark Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 1.4% at 35,386.96.
The tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index lost 0.7% to 15,064.94. The broad-based S&P 500 fell 1% to 35,386.96.
Electric car maker Rivian fell 11.7% after announcing a big quarterly loss following the market close Thursday, and saying production might fall "a few hundred vehicles short" of the 2021 target of 1,200 cars.