Stocks Have Their Worst Day of the Year

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - DECEMBER 19: Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) as the Federal Reserve Board Chairman Jerome Powell holds a news conference on December 19, 2018 in New York City. U.S. stocks fell on Wednesday after the Federal Reserve raised interest …
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Stocks suffered their biggest sell-off of the year Monday as fear of Chinese retaliation against President Trump’s new tariffs escalated.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell by 766 points, or 2.9 percent. At its lows, the Dow was down by more than 950 points. The Nasdaq fell nearly 3.5 percent. The S&P 500 was down around 3 percent.  The small-cap Russell 2000 was down 2.9 percent.

Monday’s declines came on top of what had been the worst week of the year for stocks, with major averages all declining for the week. The market last week was battered by the Federal Reserve’s decision to cut interest rates by only one-quarter of a percentage point, Fed chair Jerome Powell’s announcement that the July cut was not the beginning of a major rate-cutting cycle, and the announcement Thursday by President Donald Trump that tariffs would be extended to $300 billion of Chinese imports.

China’s currency declined to the lowest level in a decade, a move which many saw as Chinese officials allowing depreciation in retaliation for the tariffs. President Trump described the action as “currency manipulation” in a Monday morning tweet.

China also said it would suspend the purchases of U.S. agricultural products. China’s Ministry of Commerce said Monday that it would not rule out imposing tariffs on U.S. farm products.

The heightened trade tensions also reverberated through the bond market. Federal-funds futures showed a 48.9 percent chance of at least three more quarter-point rate cuts by the end of the year, according to the CME Group. One month ago, the Fed-funds futures were predicting just an 8.6 percent chance of that deep of a cut. The yield on the 10-year Treasury fell to 1.725 percent, down from 1.864 percent on Friday. A week ago, the 10-year yield was 2.066 percent.

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