US Markets

Dow plunges 1,175 points in wild trading session, S&P 500 goes negative for 2018

Key Points
  • The Dow also broke below 25,000 and dipped into correction territory.
  • The S&P 500 closed down more than 7 percent from a record set last month.
  • "This sell-off, in the bigger scheme of things, is not that big. But it is very important in psychological terms," says one strategist.
This is a normal, bull market correction: Strategist
This is a normal, bull market correction: Strategist

U.S. stocks fell sharply Monday, extending a steep sell-off from the previous session, as investors rushed for the exits in the wake of rising interest rates. For the S&P 500, it was the worst day in six years.

The Dow Jones industrial average shed 1,175.21 points to 24,345.75 and briefly declined more than 1,500 points. The 30-stock index also briefly traded flat earlier in the session, before the selling returned. Overall, the Dow traveled more than 5,100 points during the session.

The Dow also broke below 25,000 and erased its 2018 gains. It also dipped into correction territory.

"Breaking the early lows of the day means the correction could go on for longer," said Art Cashin, UBS director of floor operations at the New York Stock Exchange.

The pulled back 4.1 percent — its biggest one day decline since August 2011— to close at 2,648.94. The broad index had traded positive earlier on Monday as the tech sector briefly rose. The S&P 500 also closed down more than 7 percent from an all-time high set last month and broke below its 50-day moving average, a key technical level. It also gave back all of its gains for 2018.

"As soon as we broke the 50-day moving average ... we saw volatility spike," said Jeff Kilburg, CEO of KKM Financial. "It's just been downhill from there."

The Nasdaq composite declined 3.8 percent to 6,967.53 after rising as much as 0.5 percent. Earlier gains in Apple and Amazon helped the tech-heavy index trade off its lows.

"We're not used to getting washouts like this anymore," said Quincy Krosby, chief market strategist at Prudential Financial. "The buy-the-dip mentality that has taken over hasn't allowed for that."

"This sell-off, in the bigger scheme of things, is not that big. But it is very important in psychological terms," Krosby said.

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York.
Brendan McDermid | Reuters

The Dow fell 665.75 points on Friday — or 2.5 percent — notching its biggest one-day sell-off since June 2016. The S&P 500 had its worst one-day performance since Sept. 2016 and the Nasdaq posted its worst session since August 2017.

Stocks were pressured by a fast rise in interest rates last week. The benchmark 10-year yield rose to its highest levels in four years. Overnight, it reached 2.88 percent before trading around 2.75 percent.

The major indexes also capped off their worst weekly performance in two years on Friday. The Dow and S&P 500 pulled back 4.1 percent and 3.9 percent, respectively, last week. The Nasdaq lost 3.53 percent.

"What we noticed in January was that stocks and bond yields wanted to run through their year-end targets" to start off 2018, said John Augustine, chief investment officer at Huntington Private Bank. "I think both markets just need to take a breather." He also noted these pullbacks in bonds and stocks should be viewed as buying opportunities by investors.

What are market circuit breakers?
What are market circuit breakers?

Stocks began the new year ripping higher. The Dow and S&P 500 had their best monthly gains since March 2016 last month. The Nasdaq posted its biggest one-month gain since October 2015 in January. The major indexes had also notched record highs.

Equities benefited from strong economic data and solid corporate earnings growth at the start of the year. But increasing inflation concerns have sent interest rates higher recently, rattling Wall Street.

The White House repeatedly touted the stock market's rally last month. When asked about the market's current sell-off, they said they are "always concerned when the market loses any value, but we're also confident in the economy's fundamentals."

The CBOE Volatility index (VIX), widely considered the best gauge of fear in the market, hit 37.32.

The biggest loser for the Dow on Monday was its biggest bull market winner. Boeing dropped 6 percent, paring its gain over the last 12 months to 103 percent. Apple was the best performer in the Dow, falling just 2.5 percent.

—CNBC's Evelyn Cheng and Robert Hum contributed to this report.