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The Journal Gazette

  • Trader Thomas Donato works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on Wednesday. As investors worry that President Donald Trump's proposed policies may not come to fruition, the stock market had its biggest single-day drop in eight months. (Associated Press)

Thursday, May 18, 2017 1:00 am

Stock market plummets amid political turmoil

ALEX VEIGA | Associated Press

The growing political drama in Washington rattled Wall Street on Wednesday, knocking the Dow Jones industrial average down more than 370 points and giving the stock market its biggest single-day slump in eight months.

Investors worried that the headline-fueled political turmoil that has enveloped the White House may hinder President Donald Trump's plans to cut taxes, roll back government regulations and other aspects of his pro-business agenda.

The steep drop ended an unusually long period of calm for the markets, which had been hovering near all-time highs.

Financial stocks, which soared in the months since the election, declined the most as bond yields fell sharply. Bonds, utilities and gold rose as traders shunned riskier assets. The dollar fell.

“When you are at these valuations, the market has to reassess whether or not the agenda is actually going to be implemented,” said Quincy Krosby, market strategist at Prudential Financial. “What you're seeing is a classic run toward safety.”

The Standard & Poor's 500 index had its biggest drop since September, sliding 43.64 points, or 1.8 percent, to 2,357.03. The Dow lost 372.82 points, or 1.8 percent, to 20,606.93. The Nasdaq composite index, coming off setting two consecutive record highs, gave up 158.63 points, or 2.6 percent, to 6,011.24.

Small-company stocks fell more than the rest of the market. The Russell 2000 index sank 38.79 points, or 2.8 percent, to 1,355.89. Those companies would stand to benefit even more than large ones from corporate tax cuts Trump is proposing. They also had risen sharply in the months following the election.