Investors welcomed the first trading day of the new year by selling off a broad range of stocks, although a final hour rally limited the losses for the day.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell as much as 725 points before recovering to end down just 325 points, a 1.25 percent decline. The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq Composite both declined by just under 1.45 percent after their own late-afternoon recovery from steeper losses.
Those earlier declines followed a morning in which prices in futures markets seemed to indicate a continuation of the rally in stocks at the end of 2020.
It was the worse day in more than two months for the S&P and the Dow.
Investors remain focused on the surge in the coronavirus, the effectiveness of the vaccination programs, and the run-off election in Georgia that will decide control of the U.S. Senate. There was little news on those topics that readily explains Monday’s volatility. Similarly, there were no signs of market-moving news about the Biden transition or attempts to pass another round of stimulus checks.
Ten of the 11 sectors of the S&P declined, with only the much beaten-down energy sector gaining. Real estate was the weakest sector, followed by utilities and industrials.
Walgreens Boots Alliance was the biggest gainer on the Dow, rising 3.74 percent. Walmart, Goldman Sachs, Chevron, and Verizon were the other Dow gainers for the day. Boeing and Coca-Cola were the worst performers for the day.