Dow falls as stormy December on Wall Street continues

The US stock market sank deeper into the red following sluggish economic reports on Monday and bad news from...

Posted: Dec 17, 2018 4:23 PM
Updated: Dec 17, 2018 4:23 PM

The US stock market sank deeper into the red following sluggish economic reports on Monday and bad news from a couple of blue chip giants.

The Dow fell more than 200 points before bouncing back a bit. The S&P 500 hit its lowest level of the year. And the Nasdaq joined the Dow & S&P 500 in negative territory for 2018. All three indexes have plunged more than 6% so far this December.

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A weaker reading from the New York Federal Reserve about manufacturing in the Empire State and a drop in confidence from the nation's homebuilders weighed on the markets.

"Investors are zeroing in on this idea of slower growth for 2019," said Michael Arone, chief investment strategist at State Street Global Advisors. "More people are worried about a recession in late 2019 or 2020."

The political noise in Washington isn't helping either. President Trump, in a tweet Monday morning, repeated his criticism of the Federal Reserve for its recent rate hikes. The Fed meets Wednesday and is widely expected to raise rates again.

But Trump tweeted that "it is incredible that with a very strong dollar and virtually no inflation, the outside world blowing up around us, Paris is burning and China way down, the Fed is even considering yet another interest rate hike. Take the Victory!"

The Fed is supposed to be politically independent. Any evidence that it might be swayed by attacks from Trump could unnerve the markets.

"If the Fed doesn't raise rates it will look like it's succumbing to the bullying of Trump's tweets," Arone said.

Investors had more to worry about than the economy and politics though.

The Dow's losses were led by a continued drop in healthcare and consumer products giant Johnson & Johnson.

J&J (JNJ) plunged 10% Friday following a bombshell report by Reuters alleging that J&J was aware its trademark baby powder contained asbestos. J&J has said the Reuters report is factually incorrect. But the stock still fell nearly 2% more Monday.

Dow component UnitedHealth (UNH) fell 2% after a federal judge in Texas ruled late Friday that the individual mandate of the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, was unconstitutional.

This is unlikely to affect health coverage for Americans for quite some time, but it does lead to further uncertainty about the ultimate fate of the landmark law.

Shares of rival insurer Cigna (CI) -- which is in the process of merging with pharmacy benefits manager Express Scripts (ESRX) -- and drugstore giant CVS (CVS), which recently acquired insurer Aetna -- were lower Monday as well.

And Dow component Goldman Sachs (GS) was weighing on the broader market too. The Wall Street investment banking giant is in the middle of a scandal in Malaysia.

The Malaysian government filed criminal charges against Goldman Sachs Monday due to its involvement with investment fund 1MDB.

Malaysia has accused Goldman Sachs of misleading investors about bond sales for the fund that were underwritten by Goldman Sachs. The Fed is said to be looking into Goldman Sachs' ties to 1MDB as well.

Shares of Goldman Sachs fell 2% Monday and are now down nearly 35% this year, making the stock the Dow's worst performer of 2018.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 489116

Reported Deaths: 6614
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1014901592
Ramsey43327810
Dakota36619394
Anoka33496391
Washington22208262
Stearns18822202
St. Louis14887265
Scott13403107
Wright12609116
Olmsted1185990
Sherburne878574
Carver787641
Clay695588
Rice677691
Blue Earth601035
Kandiyohi581274
Crow Wing523582
Chisago501745
Otter Tail486071
Benton450990
Winona419749
Mower410831
Douglas394568
Goodhue389069
Nobles387247
Polk345063
McLeod341250
Beltrami338951
Morrison327747
Becker314842
Itasca314646
Lyon313845
Isanti309456
Steele303611
Carlton300449
Freeborn286424
Pine283216
Nicollet262441
Todd249730
Brown248237
Le Sueur238120
Mille Lacs229447
Cass221224
Waseca210417
Meeker208134
Martin190829
Wabasha18733
Roseau181017
Hubbard161041
Houston158214
Dodge15404
Renville152640
Redwood147127
Fillmore13969
Pennington138716
Chippewa136935
Cottonwood136020
Wadena131420
Faribault124917
Aitkin119133
Sibley118310
Watonwan11828
Rock116314
Kanabec108820
Pipestone101824
Yellow Medicine97717
Murray9548
Jackson94610
Swift87818
Pope8165
Marshall78615
Stevens7478
Lake74218
Clearwater72014
Lac qui Parle68716
Wilkin67711
Koochiching62111
Big Stone5173
Lincoln5122
Grant4928
Norman4798
Unassigned44768
Mahnomen4437
Kittson41021
Red Lake3615
Traverse3115
Lake of the Woods2221
Cook1190

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 337676

Reported Deaths: 5494
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk52087560
Linn19512317
Scott17167212
Black Hawk14970293
Woodbury13847214
Johnson1317075
Dubuque12450196
Dallas1022593
Pottawattamie9897146
Story965045
Warren514976
Clinton502684
Cerro Gordo501383
Webster495788
Sioux480369
Marshall465273
Des Moines428461
Muscatine426393
Buena Vista413237
Wapello4059110
Jasper387767
Plymouth368978
Lee354653
Marion341571
Jones285155
Henry279837
Bremer270555
Carroll266948
Crawford253635
Boone244330
Benton241154
Washington239547
Mahaska215746
Jackson210339
Dickinson204240
Tama203065
Kossuth198655
Delaware186240
Clay184425
Winneshiek183628
Fayette179335
Page178119
Buchanan177829
Wright174531
Hamilton173942
Cedar172723
Hardin170239
Harrison167670
Clayton160254
Butler159331
Mills148520
Floyd148141
Poweshiek148030
Cherokee146236
Lyon145741
Allamakee144848
Madison143218
Iowa140723
Hancock138030
Grundy132430
Winnebago130531
Calhoun129611
Cass129651
Jefferson128634
Appanoose123247
Louisa122644
Mitchell120740
Chickasaw119915
Union119331
Sac118818
Shelby117634
Emmet115340
Humboldt113725
Franklin109719
Guthrie109628
Palo Alto101721
Howard99722
Unassigned9720
Montgomery96936
Clarke95120
Keokuk92429
Monroe90028
Ida81832
Adair81630
Pocahontas80919
Davis76623
Monona76527
Greene73110
Lucas72221
Osceola68315
Worth6678
Taylor64112
Decatur5719
Fremont5619
Van Buren53718
Ringgold50620
Audubon4759
Wayne47221
Adams3194
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