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Wall Street just took a huge plunge and traders are trying to stay calm

The Dow Jones suffered its worst day in six years.

Source: CNN/YouTube

WALL STREET STOCKS endured a brutal Monday, with the Dow seeing one of its steepest ever one-day point drops, as the heady bullishness of early 2018 gave way to extreme volatility.

The Dow Jones industrial average plunged more than 1,100 points as stocks took their worst loss in six and a half years.

Two days of steep losses have erased the market’s gains from the start of this year and ended a period of record-setting calm for stocks.

Banks fared the worst as bond yields and interest rates nosedived. Health care, technology and industrial companies all took outsize losses and energy companies sank with oil prices.

At its lowest ebb, the Dow was down 1,597 points from Friday’s close. That came during a 15-minute stretch where the 30-stock index lost 700 points and then gained them back.

Market pros have been predicting a pullback for some time, noting that declines of 10 percent or more are common during bull markets. There hasn’t been one in two years, and by many measures stocks had been looking expensive.

“It’s like a kid at a child’s party who, after an afternoon of cake and ice cream, eats one more cookie and that puts them over the edge,” said David Kelly, the chief global strategist for JPMorgan Asset Management.

Kelly said the signs of inflation and rising rates are not as bad as they looked, but after the market’s big gains in 2017 and early 2018, stocks were overdue for a drop.

The Dow finished down 1,175.21 points, or 4.6%, at 24,345.75.

“What you’re seeing is pretty uniform selling across the board,” Art Hogan, chief market strategist at Wunderlich Securities told AFP.

“We’re out of practice watching momentum going in the opposite direction.”

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index, the benchmark most professional investors and many index funds use, skidded 113.19 points, or 4.1%, to 2,648.94.

Markets Return of Fear Specialist Meric Greenbaum works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. Source: Richard Drew/PA Images

 

That was its biggest loss since August 2011, when investors were fearful about European government debt and the U.S. came close to breaching its debt ceiling.

The Nasdaq composite fell 273.42 points, or 3.8%, to 6,967.53.

The slump began on Friday as investors worried that creeping signs of higher inflation and interest rates could derail the US economy along with the market’s record-setting rally.

The stock market has been unusually calm for more than a year. The combination of economic growth in the US and other major economies, low interest rates, and support from central banks meant stocks could keep rising steadily without a lot of bumps along the way. Experts have been warning that that wouldn’t last forever.

As bad as today’s drop is, the market saw worse days during the financial crisis. The Dow’s 777-point plunge in September 2008 was equivalent to 7%, far bigger than today’s (4.6%) decline.

Stocks hadn’t suffered a 5% drop since the two days after Britain voted to leave the European Union in June 2016. They recovered those losses within days.

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