Dow falls 362 points as stock sell-off worsens

Sarah Ponczek and Kailey Leinz
Bloomberg News

The Dow Jones Industrial Average tumbled 362 points, helping to send U.S. stocks to the biggest two-day decline since May, while yields on benchmark government bonds touched April 2014 highs as caution crept into markets after one of the best starts to a year in recent history.

Screens flashed red across most asset classes, with investors on edge ahead of a slew of earnings, a U.S. rate decision, the president’s address to Congress and major economic data. All major U.S. equity indexes sank a second day, with investors pocketing profits from a four-week rally that greeted 2018.

The 10-year Treasury yield pushed above 2.73 percent, the highest since April 2014. Commodities retreated, led by crude and industrial metals. Gold turned lower, while the dollar fluctuated.

The S&P 500 Index sank 1.1 percent, bringing the two-day decline in the benchmark index to 1.89 percent, the most since May 17. The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 1.4 percent and the Nasdaq Composite Index was down 0.9 percent.

Equities took a series of blows that added to the selling. MetLife Inc. headlined a series of disappointing earnings, dampening enthusiasm over tax cuts.

News that, JPMorgan Chase and Berkshire Hathaway plan a joint unit that may redefine health-care jolted that sector to the steepest drop in more than a year.

Apple Inc., the world’s largest company by market value, sank to a three-month low amid reports of a government inquiry and as concern mounts that its latest iPhone isn’t selling briskly. Energy producers slumped with the price of crude.

“We’ve just had such a huge move in one month, it’s scared people. We had huge flows into equities at the beginning of this year,” said Carmel Wellso, director of research at Janus Henderson. “Some people might be saying ‘Wow, I just made 10 percent, that’s what I wanted to make for this whole year. Maybe I’ll take some money off the table.’ ”

Investors are weighing whether stronger corporate earnings, a pick-up in economic growth and optimism over U.S. tax cuts can continue driving up prices in markets that recently touched their highest on record; Goldman Sachs Group Inc. predicts a correction is on the horizon, but says any such pullback would be a buying opportunity.

The anxiety spread to Asia and Europe, with euro-zone stocks falling the most since November and Japan’s Topix wiping out gains for the year. Emerging-market stocks tumbled 1.7 percent, the most in two months. Gold futures lost 0.3 percent and even Bitcoin joined the selloff, sinking as much as 12 percent to fall below $10,000 before recovering from the lows of the day.