U.S. stocks fell sharply in early trading Monday, extending losses for the market after its worst week in more than seven years.
Technology companies, health care stocks and banks took some of the heaviest losses in the broad sell-off, which followed news that the U.S. Treasury Secretary called the CEOs of six major banks Sunday in an apparent attempt to stabilize jittery markets.
Trading volume was light during a shortened trading session ahead of the Christmas holiday Tuesday.
The S&P 500 index fell 48 points, or 2 percent, to 2,368 as of 10:09 a.m. Eastern Time. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 444 points, or 2 percent, to 22,000. The Nasdaq skidded 110 points, or 1.7 percent, to 6,222. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks gave up 14 points, or 1.1 percent, 1,277.
The major indexes are down 16 to 26 percent from their autumn highs. Barring huge gains during the upcoming holiday period, this will be the worst December for stocks since 1931.
In Christmas holiday-thinned half-day trading in Europe, France’s CAC 40 fell 1.5 percent, while the FTSE 100 index of leading British shares slid 0.5 percent. Germany’s DAX was closed.
Investors have grown jittery in recent weeks amid concern that U.S. economic growth will slow and hurt corporate profits. Stoking those concerns are rising interest rates, the U.S.-China trade dispute and signs that economies in Europe and China are slowing.
Coming off a turbulent week of trading on Wall Street, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Sunday disclosed calls with the heads of Bank of America, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase, Morgan Stanley and Wells Fargo. Mnuchin said the CEOs all assured him they have ample money to finance their normal operations, even though there haven’t been any serious liquidity concerns rattling the market. But the calls added to the underlying worries that have gripped markets of late.
Bank stocks were among then biggest decliners Monday. Citigroup slid 2.6 percent to $48.97.
Technology and health care stocks accounted for much of the selling. Microsoft fell 3.1 percent to $95.18. Cigna lost 2.5 percent to $176.80.
Oil prices, which have sunk on concerns about the state of the global economy and also oversupply in the market, continued to slide. Benchmark U.S. crude was down 2.1 percent to $44.61 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, declined 1.2 percent to $53.16 a barrel in London.
The decline in oil prices weighed on energy stocks. Hess slumped 6.9 percent to $38.61.
Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.76 percent from 2.79 percent late Friday.
The dollar fell to 110.39 yen from 111.31 yen on Friday. The euro strengthened to $1.1429 from $1.1370.
Major indexes in Asia finished mixed. South Korea’s Kospi dropped 0.3 percent, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng lost 0.4 percent on a short trading day. Australia’s S&P ASX 200 added 0.5 percent. Markets in Japan and Indonesia, which is reeling from a weekend tsunami that has killed at least 373 people, were closed.