New "Omicron" COVID Variant Rattles Stock Markets

A new strain of COVID - B.1.1.529, which has been given the "omicron" label - hit stocks and other risk assets on the chin Friday.

omicron strain of COVID
(Image credit: Getty Images)

A new variant of the COVID-19 virus identified recently in Africa put a scare into most risk assets during Friday's holiday-shortened trading session.

The variant – B.1.1.529, which the World Health Organization has labeled "omicron" – was first identified in either Botswana or South Africa, according to conflicting reports, and has since been detected in Hong Kong as well.

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Kyle Woodley

Kyle Woodley is the Editor-in-Chief of WealthUp, a site dedicated to improving the personal finances and financial literacy of people of all ages. He also writes the weekly The Weekend Tea newsletter, which covers both news and analysis about spending, saving, investing, the economy and more.

Kyle was previously the Senior Investing Editor for, and the Managing Editor for before that. His work has appeared in several outlets, including Yahoo! Finance, MSN Money, Barchart, The Globe & Mail and the Nasdaq. He also has appeared as a guest on Fox Business Network and Money Radio, among other shows and podcasts, and he has been quoted in several outlets, including MarketWatch, Vice and Univision. He is a proud graduate of The Ohio State University, where he earned a BA in journalism. 

You can check out his thoughts on the markets (and more) at @KyleWoodley.