NEW YORK, Nov. 30 (Xinhua) -- U.S. stocks suffered sharp decreases on Tuesday as market sentiment soured on concerns over COVID-19 variant Omicron and quicker tapering by the Federal Reserve.
Warnings from pharmaceutical executives about less efficacy of current COVID-19 vaccines or treatment against variant Omicron triggered resurgence of investors' concerns.
The efficacy rate of current COVID-19 vaccines against variant Omicron would see a material drop and it would take months to develop and deliver an Omicron-specific vaccine, according to Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel.
Moreover, U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said on Tuesday that it is appropriate to consider wrapping up the central bank's taper of asset purchases "a few months sooner" amid inflation pressures.
"Price increases have spread much more broadly in the recent few months across the economy and I think the risk of higher inflation has increased," said Powell at a hearing before the Senate Banking Committee.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average decreased 652.22 points, or 1.86 percent, to 34,483.72. The S&P 500 fell 88.27 points, or 1.90 percent, to 4,567.00. The Nasdaq Composite Index was down 245.14 points, or 1.55 percent, to 15,537.69.
All of the 11 sectors under S&P 500 Index closed in red and the communication sector and utilities sector led the losses down 3 percent and 2.92 percent, respectively.
The CBOE VIX Index, a popular measure of the market's expectation of volatility with the S&P 500 index in the next 30 days, jumped 18.42 percent to 27.19 on Tuesday.
The news flow surrounding the variant Omicron to keep volatility high over the coming weeks until there is greater understanding of the strain, said a research note by UBS on Tuesday.
Plus, U.S. consumer confidence index in November dipped to 109.5 in comparison with market expectation of 110.7 while the consumer confidence in October was revised downward to 111.6 from 113.8, according to data issued by the Conference Board on Tuesday.