Specialist Matthew Greiner works at his post on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Thursday, December 27, 2018. (Photo: AP)
Stocks are down sharply, unable to build on the prior day’s strong performance, as Wall Street stumbles toward what could be its steepest annual loss since the financial crisis.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average slumped about 360 points in early afternoon trading Thursday after dropping as much as 528 points earlier. Technology companies and health care stocks, big gainers on Wednesday when the market had its best day in 10 years, took some of the heaviest losses in the broad slide.
The market’s gyrations have resulted in unusual volatility for the final days of the year. On the whole, it’s been a turbulent month — the market remains on track for its worst December since 1931, during the depths of the Depression, and could finish 2018 with its biggest losses in a decade.
“You’re watching the market wrestle with, ‘Ok, are we within a couple percent off the bottom, or does the community think there’s another 20 percent lower?’” said Billy Huzar, client investment strategist at J.P. Morgan Private Bank.
Energy stocks also fell as the price of U.S. crude oil slid 2.9 percent a day after posting its biggest increase in two years.
The S&P 500 index fell 44 points, or 1.8 percent, to 2,423 as of 12:55 p.m. Eastern Time. The Dow slid 360 points, or 1.6 percent, to 22,517. Both indexes rose about 5 percent Wednesday, when the Dow had its biggest-ever single-day point gain.
The tech-heavy Nasdaq lost 141 points, or 2.2 percent, to 6,411. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks gave up 25 points, or 1.9 percent, 1,304.
Volatility has been the norm this month. The Dow has dropped 1 percent or more in eight of the 17 trading sessions. Even with Wednesday’s big gains, the Dow, S&P 500 and Nasdaq are all down more than 10 percent for the month.
The partial government shutdown that began over the weekend has weighed on the market. Investors have also been unnerved by the personnel turmoil inside the Trump administration, trade tensions with China, the slowing global economy and worries that corporate profits are going to slip sooner or later.
Technology companies, a big driver of the market’s gains before the October downturn, slumped Thursday. Advanced Micro Devices slid 6 percent to $16.82.
Perrigo lost 5.7 percent to $38.39, one of the big decliners in the health care sector.
Bank stocks fell along with Treasury yields. KeyCorp declined 2.5 percent to $14.35 as the yield on the 10-year Treasury fell to 2.76 percent from 2.79 percent late Wednesday.
The decline in oil prices weighed on energy stocks. Noble Energy slid 4.1 percent to $18.31.
Benchmark U.S. crude dropped 2.4 percent to $45.12 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, was down 2.5 percent to $53.39 a barrel in London.
The dollar fell to 110.69 yen from 111.36 yen on Wednesday. The euro strengthened to $1.1422 from $1.1351.
The slide in US markets followed a sell-off in major indexes in Europe.
In European markets, where trading resumed after a Christmas holiday break, the German DAX slid 2.4 percent, while France’s CAC 40 gave up 0.6 percent. Britain’s FTSE 100 fell 1.5 percent.
In Asian markets, the Nikkei 225 index rebounded 3.9 percent, while South Korea’s Kospi was little changed. The Hang Seng index fell 0.7 percent and Australia’s S&P-ASX 200 jumped 1.9 percent. Stocks climbed in Taiwan and throughout Southeast Asia.