U.S. equities fell on Tuesday, the first trading day of the month, as recent election news and a Federal Reserve meeting sent jitters through the market.
"Earnings have been better than expected, and that would typically be a catalyst. But that is being negated by the noise on the political front," said Bruce Bittles, chief investment strategist at Baird. "If [Donald Trump] were to win, that would set up a sort-of Brexit moment."
The Dow Jones industrial average briefly fell about 200 points in afternoon trade and momentarily broke below 18,000, with Apple contributing the most losses, before closing about 100 points lower.
"There's not a major move on fundamentals, but with investors a little bit skittish, it does make sense to see some selling," said Mike Bailey, director of research at FBB Capital Partners. "I think investors just have itchier trigger fingers right now."
The S&P 500 gave back its initial gains to close about 0.7 percent lower, momentarily breaking below 2,100 for the first time since early July, with real estate falling 2 percent to lead decliners. The Nasdaq composite also dropped more than 1 percent before closing about 0.7 percent lower.
"You've seen the VIX going higher and you saw the SPX fall below the 2,126 level and now we're looking at 2,100 for support," said JJ Kinahan, chief strategist at TD Ameritrade. The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX), widely considered the best gauge of fear in the market, rose more than 10 percent Tuesday, last holding near 19.
Investors also kept an eye on the Fed, as the central bank began a two-day meeting Tuesday. While the central bank is largely expected to keep interest rates unchanged at this meeting, market expectations for a December rate hike are more than 70 percent.
"This is just the agitation that happens around a Fed rate hike and since we only do it once a year people get nervous about it, said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at Wunderlich Securities. "The meeting is going to come and go and we're going to have the same hawkish message we had at the September" meeting.