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Strange things seem to happen in the markets over long weekends, or in this case, the trading week being interrupted by a holiday such as Thanksgiving. That was certainly the case on Thursday night and into Friday morning as the premarket gains on Wednesday and early Thursday disintegrated in Friday’s longer than normal session. As a result, the index had one of its worst days in months.

Of course, there had to be a catalyst for such a violent swing in price action. That being the detection of a new COVID-19 variant in South Africa being reported around 5 PM on Thursday. From a US perspective, the timing could not have been worse, as its citizens are either traveling for the holiday or are looking for Black Friday bargains.

When the index futures resumed trading at 6:00 PM EST it had an immediate 20 point drop from its 1:00 PM EST halt on Thursday afternoon. The continuation move was a death by a thousand cuts, as the index did not bottom until just after 4:00 AM EST as the premarket equity trading commenced at 4597.

The rebound off that low continued into the start of the regular session but was snuffed out ahead of the bottom of Friday’s range (4656.25), only reaching 4643.25. The next leg down was much more abrupt, but found buyers in a familiar area. Heading into the session, the low for the month was 4586.50, but the index fell to 4585 and attempted to rebound into the close. 

However, another wave of sellers emerged in the last 15-minute bracket that resulted in the index making a new low for the session at 4581.25 in the final few minutes. 

The bulls fought back too late to distance themselves from that low, ending the session lower by 103.50 handles to close 4595.50. It should be noted that the selling became more aggressive in the after-hours with the index making a new low at 4577.25 as well as an after-hours print at 4679 (15.50 handle discount to close).

The top gainer of the top components was the smallest loser of the top components which was Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ). For the session, the issue declined $1.04 or 0.65% to close at $159.20.

That was much better than the cash index’s loss of 2.27%.

Nvidia Corp (NASDAQ: NVDA) was the biggest loser of the top components. It declined on the day by $11.61 or 3.6 percent at $315.30.