President Donald Trump, often seizing on stock market gains as a personal victory, may now see that he can get on the market's bad side.
Stocks sold off sharply Thursday, as investors worried about a possible exodus of cabinet members and advisors and doubted his ability to push through pro-growth programs. Rumors circulated that highly regarded White House advisor Gary Cohn was planning to leave, but the White House denied the rumor.
The Dow ended the day down 274 points, to 21,750, its worst day in three months. The S&P 500 was off 1.5 percent to 2,430, its worst day since May. However, it is still up a lofty 13.5 percent since the election.
Dow and S&P 500 futures Friday were flattish, but the Nasdaq was higher. Global markets followed Wall Street lower, and the dollar remained under pressure.
"For the first time, people are now questioning if he can get anything done policy-wise. His agenda is under threat," said Peter Boockvar, chief market analyst at The Lindsey Group.
Analysts said the market heads into Friday focused on Trump and the continued fallout after he appeared to show support for white nationalists involved in a violent protest in Charlottesville, Virginia, last weekend.
His incendiary comments, which he repeated in an off-the-cuff briefing Tuesday, prompted the departure of CEOs from his advisory councils, and his Strategic and Policy Forum disbanded itself just before he shut it down. Now the concern is that he will have increasing problems finding support among Republicans in Congress.
In a strong statement, GOP Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee told reporters Thursday that Trump has not shown the "stability" or competence to be "successful." He noted that the country needs to see Trump succeed. "I do think there need to be some radical changes," Corker told reporters, according to a video posted by a reporter for Nooga.com.
Stocks looked technically weak, closing at the lows of the session Thursday. The CBOE Volatility Index, the VIX, sometimes known as the fear index, surged 32 percent to 15.55.
"I think it's Trump-related. People are worried about the unraveling of his team, his administration's authority and what this means for tax reform. Every day, he makes a new enemy in Congress. Today's he's picked a fight with [South Carolina Sen.] Lindsey Graham," said Boockvar.
Trump also tweeted his support for Confederate monuments, which sent more ripples across the market. A terrorist attack in Barcelona also jangled nerves, amid the sell-off.
"[Friday] is the end of the earnings season. It's going to be a shift from the micro to the macro, and that's never good. During the earnings season, the market is feeling like Teflon and nothing matters but earnings," said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at Wunderlich. But now the market will focus on Trump.
"That's the biggest overhang in this market right now ... it's a big story that the corporate CEOs are pulling away from this president. It's not just economics," said Hogan. He said the big worry is that Republicans will also abandon him.
"He's touched the third rail on this and nobody wants to be associated with it," Hogan said. "The only saving grace is even though Republicans don't want to be associated with him, they don't want to go into 2018 without tax legislation, or anything, any accomplishment whatsoever."